In lieu of brakes, use…

Reader, beware. There follows a tale of great woe and embarrassment.

This summer, I spent a week at my cousins’ house in Germany. I had taken a German class the previous year, and was eager — though also rather afraid — to practice my newly-gained skills.

My cousins live in a lovely town in southern Germany, encircled by miles and miles of fields and forests.But enough about that. Though the setting is beautiful, what really interests us (in this case) is the adventure itself.

On my first evening there, my eldest cousin suggested we all go rollerskating. “It’s only for people less than thirty!” he said, thereby banning my uncle and aunt.

Full of enthusiasm, I accepted. This was a mistake. A fatal mistake.

While getting ready, I got a little tangled up in all the gear (straps, clasps, laces, pads, velcro strips, and clips!). However, I eventually made it outside and caught up with the others.

My youngest cousin looked at me and politely pointed out that I had the gloves on upside-down. Perhaps I should’ve read this as an ill omen and turned back. But I didn’t.

So off we all went.

Very soon, I was left trailing hopelessly behind.

My cousins, I realized, were fast.

Pant, pant, pant. I flailed my limbs about, trying to keep up with the zipping bolts of lightning ahead of me.

The next moment, however, I wanted to do anything but accelerate.

As we neared a huge downhill, I remembered a fact which I had conveniently pushed to the back of my mind : in all my years of rollerskating, I had never learned to brake. Whenever the need to stop had arisen, I’d always managed to steer into a conveniently situated bush, trashcan, or lamppost.

Zip, zip, zip. My cousins descended the hill, swift and aerodynamic.

I looked down. I gulped. And I let myself roll towards my doom.

Everything went very fast. Suddenly, I turned, lost my balance, and rammed into the ground, falling hard on my knee. (Later, I would notice that my joint had turned an interesting shade of greenish purple. It would’ve made rather a nice abstract painting).

After this slight incident, I think my cousins realized that perhaps I should not have come. Much to their credit, though, they were perfect sports about it, and waited for me, showing me where I could walk in the grass instead of having to go down hills.

Nevertheless, I was awfully embarrassed, and certainly felt much older than thirty. In fact, I felt a bit like an elderly aunt being introduced to some new technology by her young nieces and nephews. Except that, in this case, the technology was rollerskating.

After several more spectacular falls, I decided to perform one to crown them all.

We were going down yet another hill. I was gaining more and more speed. I had to do something, and quickly. A handy hedge loomed ahead. I veered off the path, bumped over the grass and — CRUNCH! I sunk, spread-eagled, into the hedge.

Just like in cartoons.

Reader, you were promised a tale of woe and embarrassment. If this is not the definition of ridiculous, I don’t know what is!

The In-Between Month

I love October.

A rainy windowpane; a crisp, sunny morning; the crunch of an apple; the smile of a jack-‘o-lantern; the shuffle-shuffle of leaves.

It’s a month full of simple pleasures, of oft-repeated traditions.

Inside, October means getting out slippers, bathrobes, blankets and furry socks. Turning up the heat, closing the door, and snuggling down, your hands cupping a steaming mug of tea.

With October come hearty soups and stews, squat little pumpkins, hunched on people’s doorsteps, and oozing apple pies. But above all, October means the smell of pumpkin bread, wafting in warm waves from the kitchen, as my mother pulls out the fresh loaves.

Weather-wise, October has a few tricks up its sleeve. It starts out sunny and warm, leading us to believe it’s still summer — something we are only too ready to fall for. However, under its cloak hides winter, ready to stretch out its icy fingers.

Though <i>we</i> may be deceived by the warm spell, the trees know better. Already, their leaves are falling, gathering in mulchy piles on the ground.

Every morning when I pay for the tram to glide me along the avenue, I am also buying a front-row ticket to the park, in full dress rehearsal : robes of purple, yellow, orange, ochre and red, a glorious blaze of colors.

In the nearby woods, the earth is covered in blankets of leaves. Beechnuts crunch underfoot. Now and then, a hurried chipmunk scurries about in the underbrush, an acorn firmly clasped in its mouth.

Everywhere, nature is readying for the winter ahead.

Slowly but surely, the humans are too. Already, there’s a feel of Christmas in the air, so thick you can almost taste it. Visions of fir trees and turkey creep into people’s minds, as stores put up early decorations.

I find October’s duality wonderful. October signals the end of summer and the beginning of the holiday-season. It is a month of beautiful colors, of edible traditions, a month of warmness and togetherness, of tea and of magic.</span>

It’s a crisp apple.  It’s a patchwork quilt.

It’s a piece of pumpkin bread.

What have I been up to?!

It’s been ages — heavens, almost a year! — since my last post. Either you think ClearlyHomemade has disappeared into oblivion, or you’re wondering what I’ve been up to.

Rest assured, reader, I have not been idle. True, I haven’t been doing as many cards as before. I’ve actually been drawing lots of scenes or fun stuff that I make up. (I’ve also been reading and walking a lot. And making more brownies than would be advisable).

Here is a glimpse of some of the things I’ve drawn these past months.