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Life with Liz: Enjoying autumn

We’ve been doing all the fall stuff lately.

For G, that means all sorts of hunting.

For E, it’s planning for various Halloween activities and costumes.

For A, well, he’s still deep in the college application process, so maybe not all that fun, and hopefully, a one-time process that just happens to be taking place in the fall.

As for me, I’m indulging my new obsession with preparing for winter, and also trying to be a little bit more intentional with some planting that will hopefully pay off come spring.

Last year was the first time in my life I ever had a hunting license, and G was hesitant about going out into the field with me.

For my part, I have no intention of ever shooting anything, but I do enjoy being out there with Duncan, watching him work, and G still needs to hunt with a mentor. Quite honestly, I’m more of the mentee in this situation, but we check the required boxes, so out we go.

This year, I was pleasantly surprised when G included me in his plans for hunting, and even encouraged me to take him dove hunting, because in his words, “It’s so fun.”

While I doubt it would qualify as “so fun” by my standards, being thought of as his hunting partner makes it enjoyable enough for me.

I’m almost sorry that he will be turning 16 before next year’s hunting season, and by that time will almost certainly be driving himself, as well as old enough to hunt by himself.

E loves a good, coordinated Halloween costume. She frequently isn’t content to have just one costume. She’s had a few themed parties, parades, and of course, trick-or-treat night to prepare for this year, and she’s making the most of all of them.

Since her budget can quickly balloon, I’ve ordered her to ransack old dance costumes and the dress up closet and get creative.

Halloween was always Steve’s favorite holiday, and I’m glad she’s returned to enjoying it.

I’m not sure whether I should be insulted or impressed that she raided my current closet to put together a few looks, but the end result was adorable, so I guess I’ll take it as a compliment. My favorite one of her choices, though, is a classic ghost costume made from an old bed sheet. She’s also had fun trying to get the dogs to try on that costume and wander around the house “haunting it.”

I can’t say that they’ve enjoyed it as much as she has. I’m also thrilled that she’s looking forward to trick-or-treating with her younger cousins. She has assured me that it’s still “cool” for her to participate, at least until she’s in high school. I won’t argue, I’m happy that she’s still invested in just being a kid.

As for me, squirrel mode has hit hard. After my first solo winter last year, I have a better idea what needs to be done to get our house ready for winter, but I’m still not quite an expert at getting it done.

For example, I was quite proud of myself for remembering to order coal, leaving the window to the coal bin unlocked, and ready for the delivery. Unfortunately, I forgot that the boat had been relocated to the side of the house and was directly in the path that the coal truck needed to take to unload the coal.

My boat driving skills have not gotten any better since we moved it earlier this year, so, that was an adventure. There were some tears, and a lot of cursing, but, at the end of the day, the coal got into the bin, thanks to some very patient delivery men.

After the coal, the wood pile is my next priority. Since last winter was relatively mild, I still have quite a lot of cut wood, but I need to be preparing for next winter already.

Yet another thing on the list of things I will never do is cut down a tree, but thanks to several storms, I have plenty of naturally felled trees that just need cutting up and splitting. It would help if it stopped raining every Saturday.

One of Steve’s favorite things to do in fall was raid the bulb sale bins whenever he saw them. He’d frequently crow with delight when he would get 25 bulbs for a dollar or two. It didn’t matter what they were, just that they were a bargain. As a result, spring would always be a surprise.

While I’m not quite as much of a bargain hunter as he is, I’ve picked up a few packs of flowers that I know will compliment what he haphazardly planted, and I’m looking forward to my flower beds being a blend of both of our styles when they bloom again.

I also have some very special seeds that were sent to me by someone who reads my column and has become a genuine friend over the years. She also appreciates just how crazy Airedales can be, as she and her husband have one. She’s inspired me to seek cuttings, bulbs, and seeds from other friends, and to plan a “friendship” garden.

Digging in the dirt was never my favorite thing, but it’s growing on me. The dogs are also more than happy to help, sometimes even before I’ve planted things for them to dig up. At any rate, I find myself enjoying adding to what Steve first started creating.

This is the first time since Steve died that I feel like we’re welcoming a season change, even looking forward to it a little bit. In our own ways, we’ve figured out how to keep his memory going, and continue doing the things that he loved. Even when we don’t necessarily love them ourselves, seeing and understanding what he loved about doing them helps make them meaningful.

Liz Pinkey is a contributing columnist who appears weekly in the Times News.