The nature  of Fall 2020

Saturday afternoon was so beautiful that I spent the most part of it outside. Temperatures hovered in the 70s and for the first time this year, Fall really made its presence felt. I’d even donned a sweater that morning when I took the dogs out to take care of their early morning canine business. Saturday afternoon, I suddenly found myself involved in assorted chores that I’d been procrastinating since summer’s heat set in. Once temperatures soar, I tend to forget the yard except to mow the grass and water my flowers. All those other chores have waited patiently though. No elves did them while I slept.

Several years ago, Larry put up a bird feeder for me, placing it high on a metal pole to protect our feathered friends from our ferocious felines. I don’t think it’s kosher to tempt the birds with food and then have the cats eat them, but any cat that can climb that seven-foot metal pole deserves a bird dinner. Our cats probably wouldn’t have eaten a bird anyway; they preferred canned cat food and lots of it. Nonetheless, the feeder stands there still, a safe buffet of tasty seeds, waiting for any hungry bird that flies its way. We no longer have cats, except for the feral ones that live in the woods around us, and no, thank you, we don’t need any more cats. I can trip over my own feet and don’t need any cats to help me fall.

Next, I played ball with Charlie while the other dogs watched or slept in the sun. Charlie thinks the only reason for going outside is to play ball. Clyde and Sally think him quite crazy for chasing that yellow ball all around the yard. I stopped and watered some thirsty pink penny winkles (Vinca) while Charlie kept dropping the soggy tennis ball at my feet. I enjoyed the afternoon outside so much that when my sister appeared Sunday for our weekly visit, she and I took Charlie out to play again. He never tires of a tennis ball, but eventually we take it away from him before he runs himself into a heart attack. Sunday afternoon we had quite a show. The flowers don’t know it’s fall and are at their showiest; the butterflies love them. We love the butterflies almost as much as we love the flowers. We watched as yellow and orange ones flitted from one flower to another, enjoying themselves as much as I enjoyed them.

Abruptly, I noticed a flash of red in the gardenia bush. A cardinal had flown in to check out the sprinkler watering that flowerbed.

“Look at that red bird over there,” I said to Sarah Nell. “He’s been in that bush a long time.”

“I don’t see him. Where?” she asked.

About that time, the bird moved over to the angel trumpet vine, contrasting its bright red feathers with the long golden blooms of the flower. (I never have a camera at times like that.) Immediately we figured out that the bird was playing in the water, frolicking like a child. It was perfectly safe from any stray cats; cats do not frolic in the water or anywhere near it. Laughing at its antics, we watched the bird play for nearly 15 minutes.

When I finally opened the back door to reluctantly return inside, the phone was ringing. The techno voice of our caller ID announced: “Call from out of area.” The election season has taught me a new language and I knew immediately that a simple translation of that message meant “Call from yet another polling group or politician.” It’s my signal to let the answering machine pick up.

I enjoyed a lovely weekend outdoors and refused to take any part in a poll or even listen to poll results. I want no part of it—no last-minute attempts to influence my voting choices, no inquiries into my voting plans, nothing political at all. They don’t need to know that all the members of this household have already made up their minds. I am tempted to take my dogs, my blanket, and a tall glass of sweet tea and live in the back yard until Election Day is over. I can sleep in the hammock under the oak trees. All the phones will stay in the house.

However, if you haven’t voted, please go do so early. Early voting begins Oct. 12.

Mary Ann Ellis can be reached at