Home / View from Pope's Hill /

"Autumn"

“I, when the summer was over,
Found autumn was covered with gold;
And colors more lovely than springtime
Were there for these eyes to behold.”
“Autumn Rapture” by George R. Kossik

Hubby and I have noticed that the beautiful burning bushes are beginning to turn red. If you shop at Roche Bros. in Quincy, you will notice that all the trees in the parking lot are turning yellow. I have only see one red-leafed tree so far. When I was a grammar-school kid, I used to pick up beautiful red leaves as I walked home from school. My Grandma used to help me iron them between two pieces of waxed paper to preserve them. I would then bring them into school for the other kids to see.

I loved the cover page of both St. Ann’s and St. Brendan’s weekly bulletins last week. They reflected the Gospel story of the elderly man welcoming home his son. In the background, behind the men, is an orchard with what looks like apples. It is beautiful and reminds me of autumn.

***
As I mentioned in last week’s column, Hubby and I spent four days with our tour organizer, Marty Allen, at Indian Head in Lincoln, NH. I also told you that we stopped at a great restaurant, Red Blazer, in Concord, NH. Our friends Gregory and Sarah sat with us at the restaurant and we all chose a chicken salad sandwich for lunch. (We knew that we would be eating well at dinner time in Lincoln.) When we arrived at Indian Head, we had a short time to rest before we attended the welcome reception in the Thunderbird Lounge where there were some tasty hors d’oeuvres and free drinks. We again sat with pals Gregory and Sarah before they went upstairs to see at least part of the news. We stayed downstairs and watched some of the evening’s entertainers as they practiced.

When it came close to 7:30 p.m., our group assembled in the lounge. We saw Jim Conners sit behind an extra-large keyboard. He made it “sing” all evening. He received a short phone call from a friend and then mentioned that he hoped to perform some day in Las Vegas. (He is good enough to be in Vegas.) He then brought out another entertainer, Beau Paris, who sang some beautiful songs: “The Summer Winds,” “My One and Only You,” “I Who Have Nothing,” and When You’re Smiling.”

After Beau finished his act, Jim returned to singing solo. He played quite a few songs that we knew: “Sweet Caroline,” (and we put in all the “Red Sox” extras as we sang it), “Wanderer,” “Blue Bayou,” “Somewhere Over the Rainbow,” and in a tribute to Neil Diamond, he sang “I Am, I Said” and “Song Sung Blue.”

The following day, we had lunch at Indian Head. It was not the best weather but the sun came out for several hours. We got into our bathing suits and went to the outdoor pool where the water in the main part was like bathwater. I boldly walked in quickly and was thrilled that I did not shiver. Hubby went into the hot tub, to ease his back, and saw a thermometer that showed that the water there was 113 degrees. We had about a half hour outside. Then it started to rain again, so we beat a hasty retreat inside.

For dinner (and also for breakfast) at Indian Head we could have our choice of the menu. Our friend Gregory and Hubby chose roast beef. Sarah and I chose “comfort food,” chicken pot pie for dinner. The men chose strawberry shortcake to top off their meal. (Hubby shared a couple of strawberries with me.)

With our tummies full, we sat back to enjoy another evening of entertainment. Jim Conners returned to his large keyboard. He sang several songs to honor Johnny Mathis, “Look at Me” and “Misty.” Then he then livened the music with “Rock Around the Clock.” He played more great music: “Two Silhouettes,” “In the Still of the Night,” and “They Call Me the Wanderer,” He then brought out a comic “duo,” Pete and his puppet Howie. Pete and Howie did about a half hour of comedy and had us all laughing. Then Pete put down his puppet and took up his saxophone. He is a terrific musician and played beautifully with Jim. They played some terrific songs: “New York, New York,” “Under the Boardwalk,” “Margaritaville,” and “American Pie.”

On Friday, the weather was not good. Some of our fellow travelers were taken on a shopping trip by Joanne, our obliging bus driver. The rest of us stayed at the resort. Some used the treadmill. Others visited the gift shop. Others just rested. I found two computers and sat down and e-mailed daughter Sue, telling her that we were having a great time. We told her how good the meals were and that we had already been in the outdoor pool twice.

At noon, we had our lunch, which was enough to fortify us for an afternoon of games. Marty had planned some games for the afternoon in case the weather might be bad. She also told us to have a $10 gift, wrapped, if we wanted to participate in the Yankee Swap. We had to label the gift either “man,” “woman,” or “both.” The swap was so much fun. A bottle of wine, along with the various charms that can be attached to people’s wine glasses to mark their glasses, was the gift that was passed around the most. Dunkin’ Donuts’ gift cards were also popular. So was a Stop & Shop gift card. I was fortunate to receive a peach candle in my swap. Hubby was one of the last to choose and took strawberry lotion, which he gave to me. (I love strawberry scent.) Both were Bath and Body products so I was delighted.

Then it was time for the games. We broke up into three teams, each sitting at a separate table. The first game was somewhat difficult because there was a great deal of guessing. It was a Turkey and Dog Quiz. (If you want to be a fountain of information at Thanksgiving, write down these turkey questions and answers.) Which US state produces the most turkeys? We figured “Maine,” because it was cold. Wrong! It was North Carolina. “What do you call a female turkey?” It is “hen.” Most people knew the third question. “Which famous American advocated the turkey as the national bird?” It was Ben Franklin. How much did the largest turkey weigh? We figured about 45 pounds. Wrong! It weighed 86 pounds. (It must have needed a big oven and a big pan to cook it. “How many feathers does the average turkey have?” Our table thought about 250. We were wrong again; it’s 3,500. “What percent of Americans eat turkey at Thanksgiving?” It is 90 percent. (Only 50 percent eat turkey at Christmas.) “What are baby turkeys called?” Someone said “gosling” (That’s a baby goose.) The correct answer is “poult.” “When would you have danced the Turkey Trot? We thought the 20s. Wrong, again. It was about 1900. “How fast can a wild turkey run?” About 25 mph. The final question was, “What sport uses the term ‘turkey’”? It is bowling. Three strikes in a row is called “a turkey.”

We figured we would do better on the three dog questions. “What is the most popular breed of dog in the US?” (I knew that, years ago, it was the cocker spaniel.) It is now the Labrador Retriever. The next question was, “Which sense is most acute in the dog?” It is its smell. Finally, “What kind of dog was Toto in “The Wizard of Oz?” That was easy: a terrier. Since many of these answers were guesses, the scores were just okay.

We no sooner had cleared our heads of “turkeys” and “dogs,” when Marty passed out the multiple-choice “Women Quiz.” We looked at the questions. A few were easy; some were very difficult. “At the age of 87, I became the first woman to receive the Order of Merit?” We figured “Clara Barton.” We were wrong. It was “Florence Nightingale.” “According to ‘The Guinness Book of World Records,’ ” who is the best-selling female artist with over 300 million records?” It is Madonna. “Who was the only wife of Henry VIII to bear a son that survived past infancy?” I knew this one, thanks to all the movies on his wives. It was Jane Seymour. He often said how sad he was because “Sweet Jane” had died. The next one was easy: “Who was the longest-ruling female leader of Russia?” We threw out Indira Gandhi, from India, Marie Antoinette, from France, and Hatshepsut, from Egypt, and chose the correct answer, “Catherine, the Great.” “Which one of these people has the most children?” The choices were: Kris Jenner, Angelina Jolie, Kate Gosselin, or Mia Farrow. Many thought it was Kate Gosselin, with her multiple births. The correct answer, however, was Mia Farrow, who had her own children, plus her adopted children, a grand total of 15. There will be more about our last game at Indian Head on that rainy Friday next week.

***
I must thank my fellow workers for the lovely birthday cake they had for me last Wednesday. The cake was beautiful, chocolate with butter cream frosting. Thankfully, someone put just five candles on the cake. If there were the correct number of candles, it would have set off the fire alarm in our building. The cake was such a surprise and scrumptious, too. I asked where they bought it. It came from Sweet Life in Lower Mills. We will visit there when we have our next family birthday. By the way, Hubby’s birthday is just nine days before mine. My friends invited him in to enjoy the cake, also.

***
Here is a very appropriate thought for this past week from William Butler Yeats: “From our birthday, until we die, is but a winking of an eye.”