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  • Writer's pictureMarilyn Gardner Woods


Updated: Sep 1, 2019

In the next few days, I will labor.

Appropriately, it’s September and Labor Day weekend. Some will barbeque. Many will shop trumpeted sales. And a few will honor the original vision of the holiday, founded in the late eighteen hundreds to celebrate the achievements of workers.

In my long-married life, I, too, grilled chicken and crowded into shopping centers for the sales, before Amazon prime delivered regularly to my front door. As a widow the past few Labor Days, I have spent the day alone. Not necessarily a sad holiday for me but it is impactful. The ending of summer and the beginning of school triggers my nesting urge. I begin that process now.

My ritual begins with the closet.

“Honey, it’s time to get out your fall cottons,” my proper mother ordered just before the Labor Day weekend throughout my school years. Crisp dark fabrics, solids, plaids and small prints, replaced Bermuda shorts and the pastels of summer wear in my Dallas, Texas teenage life. “And be sure to put away your white shoes,” mom reminded.

The embrace of the autumn season is ingrained in me.

I will gather the soft hued linens, light weight dresses and my sandals and bundle them up for the winter. The sweaters will come out of the cedar closet. I may purchase a new pair of flannel pajamas. I’ll definitely stash the apricot lip-gloss in favor of warm russet tones of lipstick. I’ll replace my go-to light scent of summer, Jo Malone’s Orange Blossom, with a slightly heavier fragrance to fit the season—English Oak and Redcurrant, perhaps? Is it possible for a perfume to smell cozy?

Autumn colored candles, napkins and placemats—aubergine, copper, gold—will come out of hiding; I’ll relegate the crisp white alternatives to the back of the linen closet. Each year at this time, I move the large plant from in front of the fireplace so that the pleasant glow of the flames can fill the living room with warmth, unobstructed.

As I muse over the change in this season, Labor Days of the past surface—family picnics on the sand in Del Mar; beach volleyball games and the last of the watermelon wash through my mind. Moving freshman students into dorm rooms far away. My son’s last drink of alcohol that Labor Day weekend so many Septembers ago; my husband’s undying passion for the NFL; my son-in-law's dove season fervor and sweet little kindergartners starting to school loaded with backpacks as big as they were…

My menu choices change with this season. The crockpot and the soup tureen will rise again to serve chili and beans, pot roast and hearty minestrone soup; the smell of apple cobbler or pumpkin bread will waft through my home. Red wines will replace the sparkling Proseccos of summer. Oatmeal instead of Raisin Bran in my morning bowl. My soy latte treats at Starbucks will surrender to all things eggnog or cranberry flavored and my favorite Trader Joe’s Harvest Blend herbal tea will fill my cup late afternoons. A nice glass of Port will often cap my evening. The choices on my playlist will go from breezy and light to warm and sultry. Chet Baker comes to mind…

A variety of furry or fuzzy throws will cover the sofa, my favored chair and the end of the beds, perfect for snuggling up with good books. Instead of lingering outdoors for long sunsets, my television will get a workout. I’ll hang an autumn wreath on the front door and place some pumpkins and gourds on the steps.

Company will come frequently between now and the end of the year. My nesting ritual embraces guests, plans dinner parties, holiday gatherings and family reunions. I ready my home for its role as the season’s sanctuary. But in reality, I nest for myself. I spend a lot of time alone in my retreat.

Being alone in my sanctum is not so bad. I will take time for thinking and daydreaming and being quiet and unconnected. From my bedroom, I watched a black mama bird sit for weeks on her nest this spring before she birthed three little chicks. Perhaps if I light one of my candles, plump a velvet pillow and sit in the warmth and comfort of my nest long enough, I’ll birth something meaningful.


❤️ to ♥️

Summer went by quickly here in McCall.  My flowers are fading. September, though is my favorite month here. The weather is getting crisp and it stays dark until 6:20am at least. The hoard of tourists is thinning and although they are welcomed by the Chamber of Commerce, I’m glad to have my little town back. HOWEVER, Labor Day weekend brings them all back for one last assault 🤪Chris

You always send me on a trip with your reveries, though this time it was not quite what I have done, or felt, or thought, at this time of the year in my past (perhaps it is not quite what guys do at the end of the summer. When I was a kid I dreaded the end of summer, the long vacations, the beach and hardly wearing any clothes, but once back at school all was good again in an instant when I returned to the group of buddies I had there and that I had not seen for 3 months.

   Besides, this is San Diego, it will be hot and summery till at least the end of October. Don't put away your sandals and light clothes any time soon. R.

I loved it as usual, brought tears to my eyes as I could relate to much of closet organizing and prepping the house for fall! I don’t wear white shoes but  always put the white slacks away! I guess in California that isn’t an issue! Ha! Stay went and kind those blogs coming!! Hope there is progress on your book!!😊❤️🦊JS

I love this one

I remember putting away clothes in the cedar lined closet. But

There was not room enough for all five of us and so wool skirts were placed in a dress box (recall those?) and filled with moth balls and scooted under my bed. 

No wonder moths stayed away. 

You writing is so much fun to read. Delia

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