Monday, October 17, 2016

October has a lot to offer ~ My column from Sunday's paper

The national elections are in a few weeks, and some people seem ready for Facebook fistfights. The atmosphere seems negatively charged, but I think October still has a lot of good things to offer. What follows are a few.

This past week when we pulled into Little Giant in Sumiton to score some produce, there was what looked like a truckload of sweet potatoes. Through the years we’ve learned that the ones from Mississippi seem to be the sweetest in October. My lovely spouse Jilda baked some on Sunday, and we had them for supper. I always save my sweet potato until the last
and eat it for dessert.

Fried pies were one of my mother’s specialties. Most people clamored for the peach and apple, but my favorite was her sweet potato pies.

Jilda’s sister Pat makes a sweet potato casserole with roasted pecans chopped and sprinkled on the top. She makes this dish on most holidays, and while most of the family dives head first into the dressing, I go for the sweet potato casserole first just to ensure I don’t have to scrape the bottom of the Corningware.

Another good thing about October is the World Series. Even though I don’t follow major league baseball throughout the year, I love watching the World Series.

This month is also chocked full of college football. Alabama plays Tennessee in October, and hopefully Auburn will spank the Razorbacks this year.

One of the things on my “Why I Love October” list looks like it won’t happen this year.

I’ve enjoyed the aroma of burning leaves as long as I can remember. I liked it so much that I didn’t mind the chore of raking.

We had a sycamore tree in our yard in Sloss Hollow that I couldn’t reach around. In the fall, a mountain of leaves fell from that tree. On autumn afternoons I’d rake leaves for hours.

Later in the evening when the wind died down, I’d set them ablaze and feed the flames until dusk. Spraying the dying embers with a hosepipe before heading inside was one of mama’s rules.

The smell of smoke would get infused in my hair and clothes. My mom wasn’t as fond of that smell as I was. She’d make me leave my jeans and shirt on the back porch so she could run them through the washing machine. She would probably have tossed me in as well but I was too big to go through the wringer.

This October has been dryer than stale snuff here in Empire. We’ve had no rain in over a month. Most of the streams and ponds are as low as I’ve ever seen them. The last time my sinuses were this dry, I was in the mountains of Colorado. We could use a little rain.

Stepping outside this past week, the smell of smoke sent alarm bells off in my head. It looked like something burning down behind our barn. I hustled down there, but the fire was further away than I first thought. Before heading inside to call the Empire Volunteer Fire Department, I heard their sirens out on the main road.

Grabbing the keys, I jumped in the truck and drove out to the main road. The fire was raging between the main road and our barn, but the wind out of the north kept our property safe. The firemen were guarding the homes that were in harm’s way.

I know our small volunteer fire department is underfunded, but they do an incredible job and I feel fortunate to have them watching our backs.

We called 911 a few years ago when we thought a family member had a heart attack. The Empire Volunteer Fire Department was there in a matter of minutes. They had the situation stabilized before the ambulance arrived.

Even with the anxiety of the November elections on the horizon, let’s not lose sight of the good things October has to offer.


  1. Mmmm...sweet potatoes! I make a sweet potato casserole every Thanksgiving and Christmas and it's become a family favorite. October is my favorite month and I hope some rain comes your way so those leaves can fill you with memories! So glad you gave a shout out to the fire department...they deserve a huge hug for all they do and it's such a shame that most dept. are underpaid. Two of my nieces graduated from Auburn and live near there now. Carly is getting her doctorate from there and is teaching there too. They love Alabama! Have a good week Rick!

  2. FRom my experience volunteers around the country are terrific!

    Speaking of burning leaves, I think I'll use this post from November 2013 for next weeks re-run

  3. Anonymous12:55 AM

    I can understand why you save your sweet potatoes for dessert--yum-m-m!!

  4. Add me to the sweet potato fan club.
    And I am also a fan of our fireys. Heroes. Underpaid (if paid at all) and heroes.

  5. Beautiful picture showing the elixir of life!

    "Facebook fistfights"- very delicately put. It could emerge into something more serious. After this campaign, I doubt it whoever wins the elections will be able to rule.

  6. Oh yes there is a lot of good in October. Sometimes all we here about is the bad and hearing some good is refreshing! Thanks for the reminder !

  7. October is Mrs. Chatterbox's birthday month so I can add that to the good stuff in October.

  8. All that talk of sweet potatoes made me hungry. I see an early supper in my future. I too like the smell of burning leaves. There is something that reminds me of home and simpler times.

  9. Im actually eating sweet potaotes as Im reading this fantastic post. I made them into crispy chips and dipped in marshmellow cream.

  10. I am not one for sweet potatoes so you can eat all to your heart's desire:) I love October because of the smells and the beauty of the leaves changing colours ....the reds, oranges, yellows and even purples just bring everything to life. You are so right to cherish everything especially that the fire was so close. I hope all is aok


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