1. Hot Grape Juice
Every fall we snip the grapes from our grapevines and stick them in the steam juicer. Then we watch the juice run out the little rubber hose, filling jar after jar with grape juice concentrate for the winter.
We used to make grape juice every Sunday evening, mixing the concentrate with water and ice and sugar. But I don’t drink much of it anymore, as my taste for sugary drinks has diminished with age.
Instead, I drink hot grape juice.
My brother Steven was the first to discover this delicious drink. One day, instead of filling a jar, he stuck a green plastic tea cup under the steam juicer hose. “Mmmm, hot grape juice,” he said, taking a sip. “This is actually really good.”
I tried it too. And it was good! Extremely delicious, in fact. Very similar to hot apple cider. A perfect cozy drink for fall.
We came home from Minnesota to grapes that were shriveling, splitting, and overrun by bees. Quick! No time to waste! Gather them up, and shove them in the steamer. Fill a mug of hot grape juice from the little rubber hose.
It’s officially fall now.
2. Substitute Teaching
Chad, the middle school teacher Pioneer Christian Academy (the new school where Dad and Jenny teach), needed to take a week off of school because his grandpa died and his sister was getting married. So I agreed to substitute teach.
In the 7’th and 8’th grade literature class, the kids were supposed to be learning rhyme scheme, so instead of coping the *coughboringcough* poetry onto the whiteboard to use as an example, I just made up a silly poem of my own. I don’t even remember what it was. But…
“Did you just come up with that yourself?” one of the students asked.
“Are you a writer?”
“Yes actually, I am.”
“Oh yeah, you write a blog about red rubber boots!” said Carter. “Mr Chad said you might put us on your blog. But you already put me on your blog once.”
“Yeah! Well, you talked about the Hostetler clan.”
“Oh, you mean when I drove my truck into the ditch?”
“I also wrote a book once,” I said, wanting to firmly establish my writing credibility even if I’d lost all my truck driving credibility. “And now I’m writing another book. It’s about all the traveling I did last year.”
“What are you going to call it?”
“I don’t know yet,” I said. “What do you think I should call it?”
“Emily on the Run!” was their helpful suggestion.
I laughed, and turned the page in their literature textbook. Now I was supposed to teach them stressed and unstressed syllables. Time to write another poem. “What shall I write this one about?” I asked.
“Chad on the run!” said Carter. (Or maybe it was Curtis.) I pulled the cap off the marker and wrote:
My teacher Chad is on the run,
I hope he’s having lots of fun,
When he comes back we all will cry,
But still we hope he doesn’t die
I forgot to erase it at the end of class, and when the 5’th and 6’th graders came back from grammar class they loved it. So I composed more silly poetry later that week…first about Miss Jenny the science teacher, and later about Mr Chris, the principal.
So it’s been fun. I always enjoy substitute teaching, but by the end I’m always more certain than ever that I’m not supposed to be a teacher.
Like, I’m not good at making them take turns talking. It’s so cute when they give opinions! And then suddenly they’re all talking at once and my throat is sore.
And the “he tripped me!” “she pinched me!” “where did my textbook go?” shenanigans are not my favorite thing to deal with.
And it’s just kinda exhausting overall.
But it’s fun for a week.
3. My Grandpa’s sweater
My Aunt Anna could hardly believe that I wanted to wear Grandpa’s awful old gray sweater. But to me it looked like the sort of oversize cardigan that every writer ought to own. It just needs maybe some leather patches on the elbows.
The funny thing is that oversized cardigans are actually kind-of in style right now. If you want to have the latest “look,” raid your Grandpa’s closet I guess!
Besides the sweater, I also inherited one of these mugs.
Perfect for sipping hot grape juice, while wearing a cozy sweater, and reading…
Middlemarch is one of those books that’s been on my bookshelf for probably a decade now, and I’ve never even cracked it open.
Packing for Minnesota, unsure of when I was coming back, I tossed Middlemarch into my suitcase. “That’ll keep me busy for a while,” I thought.
What I found, curled up on the couch in that Minnesota basement, was a wondrous, enchanting world of colorful characters who all had their own storylines that constantly crossed each other’s storylines. There was romance, and people idealized each other, and held grudges, and their past came back to bite them, and all the people of Middlemarch gossiped to each other about all of it.
It’s a longer novel, with a much greater scope, than what I generally pick up. But it’s no Les Misérables. The various storylines keep the pace up (for the most part), and even though miserable things take place, it has a general tone of hope and coziness.
Fall may be my favorite time of year to travel. Some summer warmth remains, but the hotter parts of the earth are finally cooling off a bit. And the crowds have thinned out, with everyone heading back to school.
This year I took that unexpected trip to Minnesota. I left on a Sunday and returned on a Monday, and ended up missing three Church services. The following Sunday I also missed Church because I wasn’t feeling well and wanted to rest up after my week of teaching. And then last Sunday Mom, Amy, Jenny and I took our annual girl’s trip to the Coast.
Actually, we mostly just hung out in our Airbnb because we were all tired and sick and just needed some time to rest.
This weekend Amy and I are flying to Kansas for Heidi Mast’s wedding. Which means that, what with one thing and another, I’ll miss six Sundays in a row at my church. Yikes! Will they even remember me when I get back?
Anyway, those are five things I’ve been loving this fall. What have you been loving this fall?
ETA: ARggh, I keep forgetting to post about my Patreon. Okay. Yesterday I posted a brand new post, titled “Why People REALLY Hate Personality Tests.” Last month I posted “College Football is Kind-of a Scam,” and “Why Are There So Many Single Mennonite Women? Are We Too Picky?”
To read these posts and more like them, you can head over to my Patreon page and subscribe for $1 or more a month.