Archives for posts with tag: fall

September 1 is, or used to be, the opening of Dove season in Oklahoma, so I always think of the hunters I have known and loved with a twinge as the date approaches. Hunting goes way back in my family. My paternal grandfather grew up in Kentucky and I’ve heard stories of him as a boy going out with the dogs to bring back food for the family. They weren’t poor, but there were a lot of them to feed with the bounty they brought home.

My grandfather had three sons and a daughter and only the oldest, my father, hunted with him as far as I know. I just discovered some old home movies that show them in the fields hunting quail and pheasant. I can’t find any photos, except this one of one of the dogs, from probably back in the 40s. There’s a screen shot of my grandfather from the home movies. I remember his cute hat and watching the men leave and then come home to clean the birds for a fantastic dinner. The pheasant hunting wasn’t common, but they always hunted quail.

I’m not a gun lover in our present climate of assault weapons, but I grew up with all the rituals of hunting. Unfortunately, I never got to go out with the men because I was busy with children and my own activities, but would have if life had been different after the kids were older. My husband didn’t grow up around hunting, but he took to it immediately and he and my father were hunting buddies for years. My son because a hunter because he liked being with his father, not because he loved it. I remember him taking a gun safety class when he turned 12, back when gun organizations were more about safety and hunting rather than just guns as weapons.

The things I know about hunting and hunters are that there are so many things they love about it besides the actual hunting. First, there is just being outside, walking in the fields. They would go out in the weeks before hunting season to check out the fields, run the dogs, get ready for the new year. Whether it was hot or cold, there was always the draw of just being out there, away from their other responsibilities, enjoying the whole experience. They restored their souls.

Second, there were the dogs. We always had dogs. Watching the home movies, I had to smile at the dogs, hunting dogs. My father always taught them to shake hands, besides all the other things they had to know. Hunting dogs are lovable, faithful companions as well as working dogs. Because we lived in the city, our hunting dogs often went to kennels for the summer where they could run in the fields and keep up with their hunting skills rather than baking in the heat of the city. We always had a dog kennel and run in our yards, although the dogs were often inside with us, lounging by their owners. Training the dogs was part of the fun. They had to learn to fetch and bring the birds to their owners without damaging the birds. Pointing the birds was instinct, but they had to learn to back up the other dogs they were hunting with. Training a bird dog involved a lot of work, but it was necessary for them to do their job and be with other hunters and dogs. Here is a photo of my father with two of his dogs, Buddy (pointer) and Grandpa (English Setter). Grandpa had already been named when Daddy got him, named because he acted like an old Grandpa. He was a wonderful dog. Daddy would let him out to run in the neighborhood (this was a long time ago) and we loved calling for him. “Here Grandpa. Come here, Grandpa!” I guess the neighbors learned who we were calling.

My husband learned to train his own dogs and we had Pumpkin (English Setter), Guy (Pointer) and Tim (English Setter). After my husband died, I gave Tim (shown in photo visiting with our cat through the window) to one of my husband’s hunting buddies.

When it was time for Tim to leave, he turned to me and jumped up, putting his paws on my shoulders and looking at me, eye to eye, as if to tell me if was all ok. No wonder we loved these dogs. Here’s my husband hunting with Guy.

The next thing about hunting was the camaraderie with the other hunters. I loved hearing my father and my husband on the phone in the evenings with each other or friends, planning where they would meet for the hunt or the dog running. Usually the hunters left early to drive to the fields (often an hour from the city) for the first hunt of the day. Then there were the hunters’ breakfasts in the cafes in the small towns near where they hunted, where the places would be packed with hunters in for a huge meal before they went out again. My husband always looked pretty sharp and the people he hunted with used to tease him about how pressed his shirts were. He hunted with people from all walks of life and I used to laugh when he would lapse into a county twang sometimes after being with them. Here are some pictures from my grandfather and my husband’s hunts. Granddad’s is from a screenshot, but it’s the same vibe as hunts decades later.

While most people have fancier Thanksgiving days, it was always a hunting day for us. The men got up early to hunt and we ate after they came back later in the day. My cousin married a guy who was from a small town and owned land (always a bonus), so we started going to their house for the meal so the men could hunt there. It was a great time with all the cousins and the men (the ones who hunted) coming back in time for food and football.

Then there were the birds and the actual hunting. All the hunters I knew were great conservationists and worked with the game rangers to make sure the birds weren’t being over hunted so there was plenty for all. Many of the men my guys hunted with depended on hunting for meat for their families, so they didn’t want to deplete the fields. They all appreciated everything about the birds and their activities. Walking in a field with my husband always involved a stop to inspect the poop to see that everything was ok in the bird world. My grandfather and father hunted pheasant, as I said, but mostly quail. My husband hunted quail, once went prairie chicken hunting, tried duck hunting (didn’t like being cold and wet and sitting rather than walking), and discovered dove hunting. Dove hunting didn’t involve the dogs, but was great. He got a great recipe for cooking the meat on the grill and was happy to do so. I miss those meals!

The hunters in my life brought home the game, cleaned it and cooked it for the family. I used to cook the quail, but my husband liked to do it so I happily let him. Here are some pictures of my father (another screen shot from the 1940s) and some game from a hunt.

The changing of the season is always bittersweet for me. I’ve lost all my hunters and I miss all the things about their hunting that are such a part of my life. I love how happy they were as they prepared, cleaning their guns, laying out their gear the night before the early departures. I love how relaxed they were when they returned from a day outside, walking with friends or just the dogs, sharing their stories and their bounty with the family. Even a day without finding a bird was a good one. Just because.

Here are my son and husband after a dove hunt many years ago. The memories are still as clear as can be for me.

Happy Hunting out there!

It’s almost Spring officially and I’d put off raking the leaves covering my flower beds as long as I could, so I enlisted the help of my 4 year old granddaughter and went at it.  She learned to use the leaf blower, which was fun for her but she didn’t have much of a plan for blowing other than the laugh out loud joy of making the leaves fly.  She was better at raking until she said she was sweaty…


While I made a big pile, all the time thinking I probably should have done this last fall even though I hauled bags of leaves out then, she decided to make a nest, feathering it with plumes from an ornamental grass and sticks.  This was quite the project and she absolutely did have a vision for this.


While I raked, she nested, finally taking a fake nap for my benefit.


It’s ok that I didn’t get these raked last fall.  We uncovered tulips about to bloom and made room for the other spring plants to reach out to the sun now that the temperatures are getting above freezing.  In the fall, she jumps in the piles.  In the spring, she makes a nest.  I wonder if that’s some primal instinct.

I was thinking about raking leaves when I was her age.  We had a big brick incinerator in our back yard where we burned them.  You can’t burn leaves in the city now, but the smell of those burning leaves stays with me.   I do miss that smell, a smell of my childhood.

We stirred up a lot with our leaf play.  A lot of dust and smells, a lot of imagination, and a lot of memories.

There is nothing like live football to energize you in the fall. Televised is fine, a good thing, but you can’t beat seeing it live.

I’ve been to high school games since my grandson started playing. Friday night lights and all. He plays for my old high school, but it wouldn’t matter. The youthful enthusiasm, the fans, the band, the cheerleaders and pom squads all make it a fun event. Some schools are more like little colleges with their recruiting and digital screens and commitment to winning at any cost, but most are just like you remember. You watch the kids milling around the stands, the parents cheering for their kids, and sing the fight songs in the cool air. Victory is sweet and defeat stings. Just like life.


Yesterday, I went to a game at my college alma mater, Oklahoma State University. There’s nothing like college football in America. . .anywhere! Television hasn’t spoiled it, but it doesn’t show the energy that surrounds a game. There’s the tailgating, a new multi-million dollar industry from what I can see. The sophistication is amazing. There was a set up with an attached bar with barstools made of saddles under a rusted corrugated steel roof that was the tops for me. Too cool. There are big screen TVs in tents set up for the day with huge grills toted in behind pickups, custom made for game day. The logistics of it all are amazing, but the total devotion to tailgating is a thing of wonder.

There is energy all over a college campus on game day. I think it’s because you can’t help but catch some of the scent of youth in the air, whether it’s from remembering your own college days or from watching the kids who walk where you walk. It’s unique and invigorating. What a college recruitment tool. Taking kids to the game where you are having so much fun at your alma mater has to rub off a little of your love of the school on them. Or not. We all know kids will do what they want to do, we just hope they love what we love a little bit.

Inside a stadium during a college game, you are treated to all the university’s traditions throughout the day. The colors, the band, the fight songs and cheers, the music, the cheerleaders, pom squad, mascot, alums and students all add up to an atmosphere of love and loyalty. Sure, there are more breaks while the networks air their commercials, but the fans are treated to performances on the field. The cheers and moans are not felt through the TV screen, the half-time activities are cut for commercials and long analysis from wordy commentators who have to fill air time. It’s a whole different experience being there.

In this modern football setting, you get replays at the game and updates from other games and people check their phones to see what else is going on in the world, the real world and the football world. You aren’t in your easy chair at home with the ready snacks and ability to switch from game to game. Even if you’re watching with friends, there is still something missing that you can only get live.

We fortunate ones live in a world of ease of getting our entertainment when and where we want it. It’s great and all that. But there’s nothing like going to a live football game. There’s nothing like approaching the stadium and the campus and having memories sweep over you or just feeling the excitement. There’s nothing like it. So American in all the best ways. We do know how to have fun, don’t we?


Fall used to mean hunting season in my family. My grandfather started hunting as a boy in Kentucky and must have hunted for 60 or 70 years. After being in Kentucky, I picture him with his brother, bringing home a mess of birds for the family dinner. He taught my father to hunt and my father taught my brother and then my husband who taught my son.

Not everyone in the family loved it, but those who did loved it with a passion. It was the whole experience that they loved, I think. They were bird hunters, quail mostly. My grandfather hunted pheasant, too, and my husband and father went on a couple of prairie chicken hunts. My husband hunted duck about once before he gave that up as not the same experience. And dove hunts came later.

First, there were the dogs, pointers and setters, smart and loyal to the end. I remember a long line of hunting dogs through my life with short names to call them easily in the fields. Buddy, Guy, Tim, and our favorite name of all, Grandpa. My daddy got Grandpa from a man who had named him that because he thought he acted like an old grandpa. We always delighted in calling “Grandpa” to bring him home. When my husband died, he left me with Tim, the ever loyal and loving English Setter who was his last hunting pal. When I finally felt he needed to be where he could hunt and run, I gave him to one of the men who had hunted with them often. Tim looked at me once before he left that day and then jumped up with his paws on my shoulders to look me in the eye as if to tell me Thank You. It was a moving moment with a sweet dog.

You couldn’t hunt quail very well without the dogs, so they worked with them all the time. Before hunting season even began, there were the days when they just went to run the dogs and get them ready. I think the men just liked to watch them work, running the fields with such abandon, spanning out for a mile and returning quickly at the sound of the whistle. It was all part of the experience.

Here’s one that must have belonged to my grandfather, maybe to my father, way back when.

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Finding a field to hunt was another ritual. My husband spent a lot of time looking for fields that were likely places and checking with the owners to see if it was allowed. For a long time, he and my father had private use of a property about an hour away where they hunted and our family fished the pond. Later, when my father had quit, he hunted with buddies in rural areas in northern Oklahoma. They knew all the hunters in the county and found lots of good places.

The night before the hunt was spent on the phone making the arrangements, oiling the gun and boots, packing the vehicle, a pickup in later years, laying out the clothes, the jackets with pockets for shells and game. It was a ritual, part of the deal.

I could hear him leave in the morning with his thermos of coffee, the only time he liked to get up early being for a hunt. I could hear him say “Kennel” and the dog would jump into the back of the truck or car, ready to go, tail wagging. Time to drive through the dark to reach the fields at dawn.

Dove hunts started September 1 in Oklahoma and you need as many hunters as you could to work a field. No dogs on this one. Quail hunts were smaller with as many dogs as you trusted to do the job. Walking those fields on cold fall mornings breathed life into the hunters I knew. They loved bringing home the game, but they loved being outdoors walking, working the dogs, watching the birds fly just as much. On the days when they came home almost empty handed, there was the same excitement because of the day they’d had.

Another ritual was the hunters’ breakfast in small rural towns, filled with hunters coming in after the first run of the morning, telling the stories, eating the huge breakfasts provided at bargain rates in those great little cafes. It was another part of the deal.

Then there was the homecoming, cleaning the birds, cleaning the gun for the next time, cleaning the mud off the boots, packing away the jackets and gear. My husband even liked to cook the game, using his Hasty-Bake in its finest way. He got a great dove recipe from someone he met in a field and we couldn’t wait. I can’t tell you how I miss having game to eat these days.

Some people don’t like hunting in any form, but it was such a part of my family that I understood. They were actually some of the greatest conservationists I knew since the last thing they wanted was for a species to be over hunted.

This fall, as I drive through the countryside, I study those fields and imagine the men I loved walking through them with the dogs running ahead. I understand their love of the land, of the rituals, of the season, of the hunt. I miss all of it. I miss them.

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Rain was predicted, but it didn’t look like driving, thunder and lightning rain, so it was time for an adventure. Heading south, past the interstates, into the Kiamichi Mountains in southeast Oklahoma sounded like the best way to start a day. Through rural areas onto beautiful roads through the mountains, Oklahoma size mountains. After lunch in Talihina at a cafe filled with locals where the $5.50 lunch special could fill the hungriest cowboy, Choctow, tourist or other locals in the area, the destination is off to the most beautiful fall foliage in the state…Winding Stair National Recreation Area and the Talimena National Scenic Byway.


The color of the foliage got brighter and brighter as we drove, even on a cloudy, misting day.



The winding drive along the ridge is stunning on either side, looking out over lush valleys. On a day like today, you get Oklahoma’s version of the smokey mountains with blue layers of mountains in the distance.



Around every corner, there is more color rising above you, glowing through the light rain and fog.



The forests are filled with more color and texture as you take the side roads into new viewing areas.



Bursts of vivid colors make this area and its vegetation different from other parts of the state.




Today, the fog stopped us from going further and on into Arkansas.


But, it cleared as we headed down for a final view of the blue mountains ahead.


The famous Talimena Drive never disappoints, no matter what the season or the weather. Today’s fog and rain made it a magic day to remember!

Will Rogers is about as Oklahoman as you can get. Part Cherokee, Oklahoma born, a state and national treasure. I grew up knowing about Will Rogers, visiting the memorial in Claremore several times. Later I worked in Claremore for a short time and visited it whenever I could. I even worked with some of Will’s descendants, many still living in the area. I had also been to his birthplace and have read several biographies, the best ones, in my opinion, being “Our Will Rogers,” by Homer Croy, an old friend, and “Will Rogers,” by Betty Rogers, his wife. In California, I visited his home with the polo fields and the comfortable house that I’d seen in photos.

Yesterday, I happened to be in Oologah and stopped by his birthplace for a random visit. The house was moved from its original location when Lake Oologah was developed, flooding the original 60,000 acre ranch owned by the Rogers family. Today, it is a beautiful 400 acre location high on the shores of the lake and lovingly cared for. It’s so unassuming for something so special. You barely see the sign on Hwy 169 in Oologah that tells you to turn and cross the railroad tracks, heading down a country road. The entrance to the Dog Iron Ranch is simple.



The house was called The White House of the Verdigris, the river that became the lake. It stood proud on the prairie, a testament to the hard work of Clem Rogers and his wife, Mary.


When you read the biographies, you know that Will lived a wonderful life in that home. Standing by the room where he was born, peeking into the parlor where his parents entertained visiting politicians, family friends and the young people of the area as his mother played the piano and they sang in front of the fireplace, I could feel them all. I pictured the dances in the dining room when they rolled up the rug or pulled taffy in front of the stove. It was as good a life as you could have in those times. Hard work, clean living, loving family, fun times together.

Listening to the love in the video narrated by Will Rogers, Jr., you have to feel proud of this family who contributed so much to our state and to the youngest child, the son who became the pride of a nation.

This happened to be a beautiful fall day, gorgeous to walk and enjoy the fall colors around the grounds and the lake. The barn was built in 1960 by Amish carpenters who used the techniques of the original barn. There were horses saddled and ready to ride, chickens running around and a couple of longhorn steers in the corrals. There are only fifty of them now rather than the 10,000 that Will worked with in his cowboy days on the ranch.





The guestbook recorded visitors from around the world who know of Will Rogers and came to see where he had his beginnings. Oklahomans continue to visit, remembering his life into the next generations. That was comforting to me, because it would be a sad world that didn’t remember the wisdom of this man who touched so many. In the end, it was a lovely stop on a gorgeous day.





Well worth a stop if you’re ever near Oolgah, Oklahoma. Here’s a favorite Will Rogers quote for today…

“Do the best you can and don’t take life too serious.”

I keep wondering if I ever had a year when I didn’t appreciate everything around me? When I was younger, did I drive by all the beauty in a couple of decades of endless carpools and meetings and kids? I don’t think I did. I hope I didn’t. I only know I appreciate all the beauty more every year now and this beautiful world takes my breath away every day.

Tulsa is exploding with colors. The cities are often prettier than the country because people plant trees for their seasonal colors. We’re having a kind of late fall because it’s been so unseasonably warm, no freeze yet. But the color is coming every day. You drive by a tree one day and it’s green, the next day it’s changing colors, the next day it’s brilliant. Every errand is a trip through beauty. I want to stop along the way with my camera to catch it all. I’ve taken pictures before, but it’s different every year. Trees change shapes, the colors and go, it’s a new world.

One of my maples is turned, the big one is just now changing. My pecan tree hasn’t even started to turn its gorgeous yellow. But here are some colors around my yard…




I love the beauty berry…


And some more trees around the neighborhood…



Even the vines turn colors…


This tree never disappoints…



As the leaves thin out, you can see clumps of mistletoe ready for the holidays. Oklahoma’s state flower, even though it’s a parasite…we do have a sense of humor here…


It’s a beautiful fall day when the skies are a clear blue and even the fallen leaves are lovely, not yet a nuisance to be raked.


For those of you who don’t have four seasons, this is for you. For the rest of us…get out and look around you. It’s another glorious day…