Tuesday, September 27, 2022

Celebrate Fall at the Harvest Festival, Excerpt from Arranging a Dream--Autumn's Lights

 Hello and welcome to the Focused on Story Blog!This week we are celebrating the fall season.

Fall leaves in Michigan

 In Michigan, fall means fresh, tasty apples, colorful foliage that brings cars full of leaf peepers to experience the amazing beauty in the Michigan landscapes, farm markets along the roadways packed with many varieties of apples, pumpkins, colorful mum plants, corn shocks, apple cider and donuts and harvest festivals honoring and thanking our farmers. 

Our town's harvest festival kicked off last Thursday, September 22, 2022. For me, the highlight of the weekend-long festival is always the parade. The event kicks off with the color guard proudly carrying our country's flag down Main Street. They are followed by the police and fire departments (what's a parade without sirens?), the mayor and city council, the high school marching band, boy and girl scouts, the harvest festival queen and her court. Many organizations, churches, schools, floats and lots of farm equipment that are so large they make the kids jump back up on the curb to get out of the way as they all march haphazardly down the streets. And I almost forgot the 100s of pounds of candy tossed from the floats with kids, as well as seniors, scrambling for the goodies. 

Some years the evening is warm and balmy, and sometimes a bit of rain, but that is unusual. Last week's parade, the weather was a bit nippy but bright with gorgeous blue skies and sunshine. 

I am sharing a video I made of the parade in 2018.

So if you weren't at the parade, enjoy a taste of it by watching this video.

VIDEO: Harvest Festival Parade, Fremont, Michigan

Video: Harvest Festival Parade

Below is an excerpt from my memoir, Arranging a Dream. I write about our first fall in Michigan and a fall day at the flower shop interacting with "leaf peepers" and with the previous owner, Frank.

An Excerpt from Arranging a Dream: A Memoir by J.Q.Rose Chapter Twenty-Six—Autumn’s Lights

Arranging a Dream: A Memoir
by JQ Rose

The warm summer weather turned into cool nights and sunny days. With the changing temperature in the Michigan landscape, Mother Nature traded the cool greens of her summer frock for her autumn gown of dazzling red, orange, yellow and gold foliage, offering a lively background for the apples ripening into rich yellow and scarlet fruit throughout the orchards.

The colors were so striking that “leaf peepers” from all over the country came to see the lakes and painted forests. Visitors traveled the two-lane highways and country roads to get a taste of the country, literally, shopping at the roadside stands filled with fruits of the season, apples, pumpkins, gourds, squash, cabbage, broccoli and more. Most ended their color tour with a glass of tangy apple cider paired with a fresh, glazed doughnut.

Curious visitors stopped by our flower shop since it was located on the main highway into Fremont. We welcomed the increased foot traffic after the slow days of summer. Visiting with the tourists brightened my day as did hearing the ring of the cash register.

“You have such a charming shop. I want to pick up one of every plant here,” an older woman said.

“This is exactly the color of the candle I’ve been looking for,” a young mother told me clutching her wriggling toddler on her hip.

“Can you tell us how to get to Gerber’s? We want to go through the plant tour.” The mother of three middle-grade boys asked while their dad sat in the car enjoying a cigarette.

“Where’s a good place to eat lunch?” inquired a stout gentleman.

The flower shop featured field-grown hardy mum plants on display outside in throw-away pots. Hardy because when planted outdoors they bloomed again after enduring the winter freeze.

In the shop, large pots of yellow and bronze greenhouse mums livened up the room. Dressed in foil with a fall-colored ribbon and decorated with cattails and wheat added a festive feel to the showroom.

The display cooler attracted the shoppers and continued the harvest festival theme with fresh autumn arrangements created with red carnations, rust-colored, bronze and yellow poms. While designing bouquets with the fall colors was a treat, using cattails, dried flowers, wheat and fall leaves preserved with glycerin added fall fun and rustic character to the pieces.

Using Hattie’s advice, I “tucked in” purple statice in the fall bouquets to add a spark to the lovely autumn colors. I smiled at the memory of her sharing that floral design tidbit with me. I welcomed the knowledge and experience that she passed on to me, but I bristled at times when she treated me as if I were a dumb kid.

With Bernie coming in to help me with wedding flowers, orders and silk flower arrangements for the front showroom, Hattie no longer visited the shop. She often voiced how much she looked forward to being completely retired, so I left her alone. I had finally achieved a cordial relationship with her, but after she asked Ted to leave the shop at Christmas time, he had no desire to warm up to Hattie.

Frank had stopped coming over to the shop to sit on the stool we had placed by the phone and talk to us all day. I didn’t want to be rude or disrespectful and ignore him, but I had to get my work done. He smoked his cigarettes, allowing the smell of smoke to drift through the shop. I was embarrassed when customers came into the shop and Frank was there sitting on the stool smoking and talking and wearing a sleeveless undershirt on warm, summer days. I asked him not to smoke in the shop and to wear a shirt. Clearly, he did not want to comply with my requests. I hated I may have hurt his feelings, but so relieved when I did not have to squelch my anger every time he lit up a cigarette or tolerate him talking to customers in that stretched, out-of-shape attire.


What's your favorite part of the fall season? Please leave your answer below in the comment box. 

Arranging a Dream
a feel-good memoir

Click the links below if you would like to read more about our first year of pursuing our dream to be entrepreneurs in the flower business. What were we thinking? We had no idea how to run a business, no experience in floral design or commercial greenhouses, no friends or family in the small town where we moved, and I was a new mom with no experience with babies!! 

The eBook is available at all major online booksellers

Paperback and Hardcover available at amazon


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Sandra Cox said...

The parade sounds lovely and I adored ARRANGING A DREAM.

J.Q. Rose said...

Thanks for stopping in. I love hearing you adored the memoir!

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