I always wish I could show you the wind, especially in the autumn -- but it's hard to take pictures of it! Maybe some music will put us in the mood for it ... just click HERE for one of the prettiest pieces I know, and come back to read on ... it seems the only way to "see" the wind is when it's filled with leaves, flapping through the laundry, dappling down the living room walls with swaying-tree shadows, or bending the tall zinnias in the garden; but it's the smell of it I really wish I could give you -- OK, I'll just describe it! Because Martha's Vineyard is an island, no matter which direction the wind comes from,

it blows across the ocean before it gets to us. Before it gets to us, it filters through the many woods and meadows here; it not only carries the fragrance of the sea, but everything that grows wild this time of year, goldenrod, clematis, wild apples, and bayberry. It slips under seashells, climbs tree trunks, slides along old porch rails, stumbles through the bittersweet, skips along picket fences, scoots through piles of falling leaves, and whistles through ancient graveyards. The cool wind encourages us to move our sweaters to the front of the closet; it rattles the windows, and gives us wonderful sleeping weather; it changes everything. I've been airing quilts and making our beds with warm comforters and line-dried sheets. While we sleep, with our two kitties draped around us, the chilly harbor breeze brushes through the window curtains, pushing them back, forcing us to sink deeper under the covers. It's very hard to get up these October mornings!

I ate an oatmeal raisin cookie already today and it's not even 7 am. We put on our jackets and mittens and went out to the color-splashed woods, kicking the drifts of leaves cartwheeling down the dirt road, we linger, turning our faces up to watch crows, cawing insistently as they fly between tree branches framing the clean, blue, wind-swept sky. We played our game of "Morning Science" when we found a perfect circle marked in the sandy dirt road and wondered how it got there. Joe notices a single blade of dead-looking grass coming out of the center of the circle, brown, limp, and tattered. The wind blew it round and round and, despite its fragility, it carved a perfect circle in the sand. Pretty neat, Mother Nature and her charms. The first smell of woodsmoke is in the air, we gathered wildflowers; goldenrod, cedar and wild asters; walking out to where the pond opens to the sea, and watch the geese fly in formation along the shore over the old fishing shacks. We wave at the lobster boats, followed by swooping gulls, as they cut through the water. It's the beginning of the healing season here on the island, that's what I call it, because after the onslaught of our lovely summer visitors, the island needs a rest . . . is ready for a long winter's nap. The winding roads are quiet, no mopeds, no cars, there are plenty of parking spaces on Main Street, the beaches are empty, the flimsy fishing shacks on the dirt road are closed up tight against the storms that are to come. All's in its right and good place, one season ends, another begins.

Real" Autumn is about to start here. It's our comfort season, we're hunkering down with bowls of soup, homemade cornbread, Indian Pudding, bags of popcorn, old movies and good books. I've been nesting -- by the time you get this Willard, my four girlfriends, who are coming from California to visit for a week, will have come and gone, whooshing through this house like the wind that swept through Tara. I want it to be perfect for them; I dried all their towels on the line, so they would be stiff and scratchy; I learned to love this when we went on our trip to England; I hope they will love it too! Joe's been climbing all over the house, putting on the storm windows; firewood is split and stacked, just inside the door; candles are ready for stormy nights; there's a blanket on the back of all the good napping spots, perfect for snuggling in, drinking tea; I just finished reading The Distant Hours by Kate Morton; a more perfect book to read this time of year, I do not know. There's dried corn hanging on my kitchen porch, a harvest wreath on the front door. The frost has been on the pumpkin, if only momentarily . . . and here comes Halloween.

A have no fear of Halloween; I don't believe in ghouls, goblins, spooks, trolls, vampires, or talking frogs (I only jump for the ceiling when Joe sneaks up on me!;-)); the long dancing shadows cast by the firelight don't scare me. I believe in princesses, fairies, leprechauns, the tooth fairy, and guardian angels (and OK, maybe talking frogs). According to my girlfriend Lowely's Mom, who's a genealogist, I have a relative who was unfortunately (to say the least) hung as a witch in Salem, Massachusetts, on July 19, 1692. Now that is a little scary. I just found out about this, and can't quit thinking about it. Oh, yeah. So don't mess with me. :-)

If there are ghosts on Martha's Vineyard, and I have no doubt, with all the history here, with all the old houses and graveyards, with centuries of family life under its belt, that there are, but they are good ghosts, and watch over us mere humans with love and concern, as well they should. You can think about this however you want, and this is how I like to think about it. What I love are the big eyes of kids at the door -- what I believe in is the childhood love of Halloween; I can easily see it from their point of view: the anticipation, the decorations, candles flickering in carved pumpkin faces, the excitement of never-ending candy, costumes and makeup, leaves blowing around, the magic of make believe; I remember how thrilling it felt, being blown through my neighborhood at night, all dressed up, safe, with my brothers and sisters and parents; that's what I love, and we hope we are contributing to a general state of joy when the kids knock on our door and say the magic words, "Trick or Treat!"

1Must get in car, go now, and get "Honey Crisp" apples. Lots of people know about them already, I just discovered them ... if you haven't tried one yet, I am the most pleased person in the world to be telling you about them! You are in for a treat!!! Like no apple I ever tasted.

2Must watch Practical Magic. Charming movie with just enough scare to make it perfect for Halloween. A chick flick that guys like too. A witch's life isn't as easy as it looks!

3Must plan ahead; think to self, "Do I want cheerful daffodils, hyacinths, and tulips to surprise me by popping up in my garden next spring?" If so, go to garden center, get bulbs, and plant them asap. Pretty together: orange and blue/purple . . . If you bought pots of mums to decorate your porch, plant them when you are planting your bulbs -- they'll come back next year and be much prettier in your garden!


5Must sit in front of open fire . . . Who doesn't love an Autumn bonfire? Celtic legend says that if you put a lock of your hair in a bonfire on Halloween, you will dream of your future love. If you have a place where you can make a fire, such as the beach, or a campground, or even in one of those free-standing fire bowls in your back yard, it's almost magical, watching sparks fly up to mix with the stars. Make some Chili and delicious Homemade Marshmallows. Kids and adults both love this. Garden centers can help you set the tone with small hay bales to sit on.


6Must commune with Nature. Walk through the woods, climb a mountain, rake leaves, breathe the wind. If you go in the car, bring along a thermos of hot chocolate and some cups. Joe and I just took a ride through the back roads of New England . . . there are photos HERE.

7Here comes the Hunter Moon on the 29th . . . must go somewhere to watch the moonrise and make a wish. Come home to a hot Pumpkin Latte, or a Kiss in the Dark (or both)

8Must make Corn Pudding; place it in a puddle of hot maple syrup. Eat it while watching a wonderful old movie (lots of fun choices here!)

9Must join forces with a girlfriend, visit flea markets and antique stores, look for a pretty gravy dish for your Thanksgiving dinner; crocheted potholders, vintage cookbooks, old damask napkins. Find a little glass shaker jar; maybe with a red lid? Stop on the way home, buy English Muffins, make cinnamon sugar and fill your jar. Now you are ready.

9Must sign up for a knitting, quilting, or stitching class. It takes no time to learn, it's a great place to make new friends and connect with kindred spirits, and is the perfect way to keep your hands busy while you watch TV or visit with friends; maybe it will "take" for you and open a new world of creativity; of things from your heart you can make and giveaway to the people you love.

11Must visit Michael's Crafts and get some leaf garlands to hang over doors and mirrors.

12 Must bring in a bouquet of marigolds or mums -- they look seasonally perky in a small vase on a shelf in your kitchen.

13Must find cider donuts; serve with hot coffee for dipping.

Must make Marigold Dust to sprinkle on your rice and muffins.

15Must get out your crock pot and come home to a house that smells like heaven.

Here's the little ghostie I found years back --- he's really a piece of canvas that was brushed with some sort of very strong stiffener and draped on a wire frame where it dried that way; then fitted with a small lightbulb. His face is drawn on with paint, and he holds a stuffed felt pumpkin ... he's in the front upstairs bedroom, all lit up, looking out over the dark street, as he has done year after year, hopefully raising the anticipation levels for everyone who drives by; "Happy Halloween!" I love the reflection of his face in the window!
This last week we did something special for our FOSB, (Friends of Susan Branch) on Facebook that they seemed to like so well, I wanted to extend it to you, my darling Willard Girls ... so, here goes . . . From now until the end of November, if you purchase two of my 12 x 12 wall calendars, we are adding an extra one to your shipment, free of charge. If you purchase four, you will receive six calendars. It's my November gift to you, and will last through the month unless we run out of calendars! I think they make good holiday gifts, and year-after-year, you have been so wonderfully supportive; I just want to pay it forward, and back to you!

Hell, I guess I better get going . . . company's coming! Loved visiting with you this morning . . . come visit my blog to see how I'm getting ready for my guests! Lot's of pictures! And scroll to the bottom of each post to read the wonderful comments from our Girlfriends. Have a wonderful day everyone! xoxo

We have lots of wonderful seasonal things waiting for you in my webstore .... here's a small sample!