A Brief Study in Seasonal Contrast

Yesterday afternoon, my husband and I spent several hours trimming and tidying up the yard, bushes, and flower beds.  While I worked, I had the opportunity to look closely at the remains of a luxurious growing season.  Perhaps you think there is nothing to see in a garden this time of year.  And, if you are looking for the vibrance and voluptuousness of summer, you would be right.  It is true that the plants I tucked in for a long winter’s nap were mere skeletons of their former glorious summer selves – dried out, brown, and brittle.

And yet….

These perennials displayed a spare, fragile grace that I found beautiful and moving in its own way.  So, smack in the middle of raking leaves and pulling weeds, I felt compelled to grab the camera and attempt to capture the fleeting and inherently sad loveliness I was seeing.  I’m sharing the best of the shots here along with some images from the summer.  It’s quite a contrast, don’t you agree?  Let me know what you think.

Coneflower (August)


Coneflower (November)





Lacecap Hydrangea (June)



Lacecap (November)





Tea Leaf Vibernum (September)



Tea Leaf Vibernum (November)





Mophead Hydrangea (June)



Mophead Hydrangea (November)





Fall Foliage Festival – Bedford, PA

This past weekend my husband and I ran away to the little town of Bedford, Pennsylvania for a few days.  Our destination was the Omni Bedford Springs Resort and Spa for a bit of seriously overdue rest and relaxation.  We happened to be ahead of schedule and looking for something to do until check-in when we drove right into the middle of the Fall Foliage Festival, a street fair held in the middle of the historic downtown area.  Instead of grumbling about the traffic jam caused by the party, we decided to park the car and join the fun.

With white tents filled with arts and cratfts lining the streets, dried corn husks decorating every light post, live music playing from the small bandstand in the square, and the smell of freshly pressed apple cider lingering in the air, this little town obviously knew how to celebrate the arrival of autumn.









Some of our favorite finds included: artisanal soaps, balms, and candles made from honey, mustard made with banana peppers, reprinted vintage black and white photographs, pottery with saturated matte turquoise glazes, and local maple syrup.  And the food – my, my, my!  Dipped-while-you-wait gooey caramel apples, funnel cakes dusted with powdered sugar, fruit cobblers and apple dumplings served warm with melting vanilla ice cream.  Big piles of homemade potato chips called crock fries.  Fresh fudge and candied nuts. And, of course, deep fried everything.

We indulged in perogies with fried onions from Pittsburgh, a pumpkin whoopie pie the size of a compact disc, pecan tartlets, and fresh kettle corn.  (For the record, we only ate the perogies at the festival – I’m munching on the sweet/salty goodness of the kettle corn as I type.)  Apple cider was on our short list, too, but when we finally got around to standing in line at the tent, they were already sold out.


[ Freshly pressed apple cider ]


[ Giant whoopie pies called Gobs ]






[ A tiny antiques shop with a beautiful collection of early 20th century pottery ]

The town of Bedford has been nestled in the Allegheny mountains of western Pennsylvania for a long time.  Bedford County was established in 1771 and the county seat boasts the oldest county courthouse still in use in the state.  The old commercial buildings and homes in the historic district create quite the charming vibe.  With its antique stores, specialty shops, and unique museums (think the National Museum of the American Coverlet and Old Bedford Village), Bedford would be a temptation even without a Fall Foliage Festival.






[ We ate our perogies on the steps of this Post Office building ]


[ The Bedford County Courthouse ]


[ An art museum ]




If you’d like to visit this little piece of America, Bedford is located 102 miles east of Pittsburgh and 102 miles west of Harrisburg just off the Pennsylvania Turnpike at the Bedford exit.

What have you done to celebrate the arrival of Fall?

Running Away

October has been a rather rocky month for me and my family.  I won’t go into to details  – there’s no need to wade through all that muck.  Let’s just say that our schedule, the renovation, and school mixed with a dash of illness, anxiety, demon-possessed computer, and traveling husband are beginning to cover the entire Whimsey Pie clan in a smoky haze of burn-out.  Frankly, I’ve been feeling completely overwhelmed by life.  That’s why, when I woke up last Friday to a cloudless autumn morning on the outside of the house and piles of laundry and dirty dishes on the inside, I decided to run away.

I didn’t run very far – only about a twenty-five minute drive.  Even so, it felt like worlds away from the disaster that is my house and the craziness that is my life.  I ended my flight at the edge of a pretty little wilderness called Kelly’s Run.  The trail there is a vigorous loop that traverses varied terrain and sometimes follows the stream it was named after.  Parts of it are very steep and parts are very rocky.  The most difficult sections are very steep and rocky.  This trail cannot be mindlessly attempted.  It is not a leisurely stroll in the park.  It requires focused attention so that twisted ankles don’t occur.  That’s precisley what I wanted – to think of nothing but where to place my feet and how deep to breath.

Kelly’s Run has a wild beauty that I am always surprised to find in tidy, cultivated Lancaster County.  Every time I visit, I feel like I am stepping into the realm of the Woodland Elves.  It’s magical.  And restorative.  The peace and solitude certainly worked its magic on me Friday morning.  I spent three hours climbing over logs, shuffling across ledges, stepping in hidden mud puddles, and soaking in the beauty of the place.  When I finished the hike, I was tired but refreshed.

I’d like to say that my little escape made everything better.  It didn’t.  I still had to face the mounds of dirty clothes and dishes when I got home.  I was still anticipating a very hectic schedule later in the day.  The first floor of my house was still a shambles.  Somehow, it didn’t seem to matter quite so much.  Spending time alone in the quietness and familiarity of God’s incredible handiwork cleared the cobwebs from my brain and heart and sharpened my perspective.  I felt more capable of facing my life.  And isn’t that what a respite, no matter how brief, is supposed to do?

It didn’t stay cloudless for long.  Typical October weather!

Kelly’s Run – the trail’s namesake.

This is the trail.  I wasn’t fibbing when I said steep and rocky.

One wet foot from an accidental puddle stomp.  I hate that!

God is an incredible artist and craftsman…..