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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Autumn/Fall (08/27/09)

TITLE: Rites of the Season
By dub W


The end of August, beginning of September is our unofficial time for the beginning of the fall season; mainly because it signifies the beginning of school. But “school start” is only one of the inevitable series of events that occur at this time of year. Around our house the season also means “college football.” In addition it means “tropical storms.” Sometimes all three of these, school, football, and storms, try to compete for our attention.

First, school begins for my grandchildren, and for my wife and I. The grandkids all go to the same school – a break for me since I must retrieve the trio each day and supervise homework before their parents pick them up. This also means having snacks to feed a small army. My wife teaches at a nearby college and spends five days a week commuting to school, then seven evenings per week grading papers and preparing lectures. She is a department head and thus does not the time to even cook meals. So, cooking along with housekeeping becomes my chore. I teach for a major Christian university but it’s all on-line. Every day, at various times, I access the school’s website and communicate with 75 or so students. Answering their emails and grading 75 essays each week is enough work to keep me out of trouble.

The second item, college football, occupies much too much of our time and money. Six times per year we load up the van with tents and tables and coolers and gas stoves and chairs and the list goes on. Then we drive an hour to the college, sit in a parking lot for two hours, gorge ourselves on chips and fried food, then wait in lines to hand over our tickets and sit for four hours in either a boiling hot, a freezing cold, or a soaking wet stadium. Often, we submit to a combination of any of the two. After which we drive an hour home, exhausted, fall into bed and are late to church.

The third sets of events in the fall are tropical storms. For folks who do not live along a coast, the concept of tropical storms is rather romantic for some odd reason. For the rest of us it means tiring work before, during, and after the landfall of one of the named storms. We have already prepared our “hurricane package.” We checked the first aid kit to insure that summer scrapes and scratches did not deplete the Band-Aid supply; and we invested in enough batteries to jump-start a battle ship. We tested the portable generator to make sure we could have fans and refrigeration for a couple of hours if necessary. We have multiple cases of water stacked on the porch, plus a pantry full of canned goods, fruit bars, and array of crackers. We also have several of those little Gideon Bibles (New Testaments given to students). Visions of surviving a week on canned green beans, Ritz crackers, a strawberry fruit bar, and reading 4-point type, is not my idea of pleasant dreams. The chain saw is gassed up and we have enough brush clearing gloves for the whole family. Our rule is simple, category 1 storms we stay home and have a party. Category 2 storms we hunker down, tape the windows. Category 3 storms will cause us to send the grandkids inland to relatives; we board up the windows. Category 4 storms (wife takes life insurance polices with her), only my son and I stay behind. Category 5 storms we all go to Tennessee and begin planning how we will start life over again in Memphis.

For some reason, the worst tropical storms occur during the school week, and on a football weekend. Which means that activities are postponed. My friends in the “above the Mason Dixon line” territory have snow days. We have hurricane days. Kids may have to makeup hurricane days all spring. I am told that in the Northwest they have volcano escape routes, we have posted hurricane escape routes.

So, the next time a fall tropical depression forms in the Atlantic or Caribbean, think of us; we will be watching the Weather Channel non-stop and have our radios tuned to weather frequencies, checking football schedules, and counting hurricane days. And, if you would like to open your home to half dozen or so hurricane escapees, drop me line.

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This article has been read 539 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Lisa Johnson09/03/09
How funny...I laughed out loud at the line about Tennessee, and Memphis because I used to live there. I enjoyed your tale.
Allen Stark09/04/09
I, too, have a very talented and busy wife, which results in me having become a not-so-good chef, but still being able to identify. Having retired from teaching,I can now devote more time to supporting our daughter's cheerleading and sports activities, again relating to what you've shared. And althoughh we don't have tropical storms in Iowa, we do understand tornados. Oh, and we did live in the Chattanooga area for three years. Wow, did I ever relate to what you wrote! Thanks for bringing me onboard.
Coleene VanTilburg 09/05/09
Well, I am guessing here, Florida, right? And here I am on the other coast watching the USC game today...we could start something here...but I won't. thanks for sharing how life is in your part of the world. I especially enjoyed the line about the batteries..."enough to jumpstart a battleship". that was funny.
Seema Bagai 09/06/09
Funny piece. The narrator's voice has a familiar sound to it. (Will have to check back and see if I'm right.) Loved the humor and descriptions of the events of fall.
Karie McCaffity09/09/09
I was born in Florida, and lived in Alabama. I can relate to the importance of football, hurricane packages, and generators, in that order. I love your Plan-by-Category rules for storms. My family lives there still, and hates the hurricane days. I hadn’t thought of all the fun I have been missing out on. Thanks
Ada Nett09/09/09
A well-written slice of life in your section of the world. Good job!
Carol Slider 09/09/09
Wow, what a busy life! Hopefully, the tropical storms will avoid your part of the world this season!
Mariane Holbrook 09/10/09
What a great piece of writing. You'll place high with this one! Kudos!