Dear Sunday Letter friends,
Fall officially begins on Wednesday, and I am oh-so-ready for cooler temperatures! We desperately need a rain in Northwest Arkansas. Our plants are tired and thirsty in a way the garden hose can’t quench.
Even though the heavens have been stingy with rain, the trees are beginning to show fall color in our neighborhood. When you live in a place long enough (and walk dogs 3-4 times a day), you learn which trees are the first to turn, which sidewalks will soon be covered in yellow leaves, which canopies become bright orange and flaming red. I’ve been studying those trees every day. And each day brings us closer to that magic time of year.
Small Town Charm
Maybe it’s because I grew up in a small town (actually I grew up in the boondocks between two small towns), but visiting the downtown area of a small town always provides a special type of inspiration to me. I love the charm found in old buildings that have been repurposed into retail stores, sidewalks that witnessed century-old history with markers to remind everyone.
Monday I visited Main Street in Van Buren, Arkansas.
I’ve only been to Van Buren a couple of times and never to Main Street. It is picture-postcard perfect, don’t you think?
My destination was Chapters on Main, an adorable independent bookstore that, until then, I had never been inside.
In another life, I must have owned a bookstore.
Or, maybe in my next life I will?
Not only did the bookstore capture my heart, but the entire block is a place I plan to further explore.
This is the time of year I recommit myself to shopping local, especially for the holidays. Yes, it’s much easier to buy gifts online, especially during this time of Covid, but small, local businesses are working hard to cater to our shopping needs. Most will provide curb-side pickup or shipping.
Let’s all support a new-to-us local business this holiday season. How about it?
The reason I went to Van Buren on Monday night? I signed up for a five-week fall fiction writing workshop held each Monday night at Chapters on Main. The workshop is taught by local Arkansas author and story-teller Marla Cantrell. Marla is a marvel at short-story writing; her impressive resume includes national magazine writing.
There’s a saying I’ve heard (but I don’t remember who said it)—you are only as good as the last thing you’ve written. Well, lately I have been spending most of my time editing and very little time penning anything new. After only one class, this class has been a shot of much-needed writing energy.
With fall only a few days away, I’ve already begun mourning the end of watermelon season. But, I’m loving these locally-grown watermelon radishes sold at our neighborhood co-op, Ozark Natural Foods.
Lately, we’ve been eating lots of salads at home, and that can become boring if I don’t put a little effort into it. These gems really brighten up a homemade salad.
The taste is peppery, much like the garden-variety red radish, but the size is larger—the one I bought was about the size of a lemon and looked more like a turnip on the outside. This radish princess is a little more expensive than common red radishes, but one will liven up several meals.
Around the Corner
I noticed my favorite neighborhood Halloween decoration is back on display, and for me, this serves as a reminder of the quickly approaching holiday.
Last year, we skipped Halloween because of Covid. (Last year, we skipped lots of things because of Covid.) This year, armed with a vaccination and still being careful, we are back among the living. And I’m excited to provide candy to all the cute trick-or-treaters.
I probably don’t have to remind you of how quickly time passes between Halloween and Christmas.
I mean, for realz…Santa Claus is literally waiting on our back porch.
Things Momma Says:
I found my Batgirl costume.
For those following my summer of 2021 butterfly-raising adventure, I plan to wrap up my experience in a separate post, but for now I’ll say, my hotels are emptying for the season. My remaining guests include two feeding monarch caterpillars, two monarch chrysalides, and two spicebush swallowtail chrysalides.
Next time, Sunday Letter friends,
Grace Grits and Gardening
Farm. Food. Garden. Life.