Signs of an early fall are welcome sights

Published 9:43 am Thursday, September 23, 2021

Today’s Special

By Peggy Walker, R.D.

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Moe, our favorite local weather man, says a change is coming!  After the remnants of tropical storm Nicholas pass with its rain, high humidity, and scattered thunderstorms a cold front is patiently waiting on the west side of the Mississippi River to bring cooler temps with very pleasant days into our neck of the woods.

And right on time for the 22nd is the first day of autumn.  I’ve been watching the signs, I think he’s right!

Like goldenrod blooming since August in the field to our north.  It sways beautifully in the wind each evening making such a warm cozy glow in the setting sun.  And it’s not to blame for seasonal sneezing, the offender is actually the little white blooming ragweed that grows below it. Goldenrod is just too pretty to discount as a harbinger of fall.

And soybeans now brown and dry in the surrounding fields are a sure sign of fall.

They were so thick and green all summer with the frequent rains.   Soon the farmers will be in the field stirring up dust as they harvest the beans exposing the rich soil underneath, just long enough to get their winter wheat planted for the next season’s harvest.  I love watching the farming cycles for they are true predictors of the coming season.

You cannot miss the early signs of fall as craft stores and gift shops gear up for all of the year’s remaining holidays.  Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas decorations on display at the same time are a definite sign of an early fall. And it makes me confused, I don’t know which to look at!

Seasonal magazines intrigue me.  I pick up Cottage Home magazines every fall and peruse them thoroughly and keep them from year to year, pulling them back out to “fall” into the season.  Grandson Mack and I like to thumb through a good fall issue at bedtime counting pumpkins, noting colors of gourds and leaves and deciding where to put our pumpkins on the porch.

When pumpkins and mums do show up at the local farmer’s market and nurseries, you know for sure that fall has arrived, especially if Moe was right this morning when he predicted morning low temperatures in the 40s later this week.  And that means sweater weather and finding my short-topped boots (which I hope will not be a sign of last year’s fall wardrobe) to wear to the pumpkin patch.

The fair is in the air! Seems every county in west Tennessee has its own fair with all the expected thrills, rides, exhibits, food delicacies and entertainment plus tractor pulls, bull riding events, circuses, and pageants. (Though DW and I won’t be going, we are laying low due to COVID concerns right now) but all the promotions and anticipation of it all are tell-tale signs that summer has waned.

There’s so much going on, including arts and craft shows somewhere nearly every weekend.  DIL Laura and I like the big one on the shores of Reelfoot Lake and where they have Key Lime Pie on a stick.  Yes, I’d drive over an hour for that tasty treat on a warm fall day.

And then there was one. For most of the summer the hummingbirds have kept DW busy filling and refilling their feeders as they entertained us with their flying skills and feistiness.  DW was making a gallon of nectar at a time and had bought extra feeders so to rotate the empties and the newly filled clean ones.

Hummers are such an impatient sort.  But now the crowd (and circus) is over, and there’s only one hummer that visits every morning.  And he seems to enjoy watching us, he’s always perched on the arm of the shepherd’s hook looking in the window at us.  And with no other hummers around he takes his sweet time drinking the sugary syrup. (Did you know that hummingbirds cannot walk?  They fly, hoover, dart, dive bomb, and perch but their little skinny legs are not made for walking.)

We’re hoping a few more south-bound stragglers will stop by as they head for their winter home.  DW and I will be watching and the feeders will be ready.

Though Southern summers usually go long into the actual first days of fall maybe Moe has it right!  The signs are all there! Happy fall y’all!

Recipe of the Week

Parmesan Chicken

Everyone needs this dependable weeknight recipe!

½ cup margarine, melted

2 tablespoons corn oil

¾ cup Parmesan cheese

¾ cup bread crumbs

2 teaspoons garlic salt

6 chicken breasts, boneless and skinless

½ cup boiling water

Mix margarine and corn oil, place in a shallow bowl.  Mix bread crumbs and garlic salt, place in another shallow bowl. Then put Parmesan in a third shallow bowl. Dip breasts in margarine/oil mixture; next roll each in Parmesan; and then coat each breast in bread crumb mixture. Pour boiling water into a 9x9x inch glass baking dish. Place prepared chicken breasts on top of water, cover tightly with heavy duty foil. Bake in 350-degree oven for 45 minutes. Remove foil and bake 15 minutes more.  Serving suggestion:  Parsley buttered noodles, corn salad and baked sweet potatoes. Supper’s ready!