Fall festivals make for great memories

By Clyde Davis: Local columnist

I must have been 9 or 10 years old, for I recall it very clearly. We loaded my cousins, my brother and myself into my uncle’s brown station wagon, kids in the back, riding in ways that would warrant a traffic ticket nowadays. We headed out on the farm lane, past the neighbor’s horse farm, and on into Zelienople, Pa. From there we turned right onto Rt. 19, driving north toward Erie, Pa. It being a crisp fall day, I knew we were not going to swim in the lake — but what were we doing?

We stopped in Mercer, Pa, the first trip I can clearly remember to a harvest festival. The smell of the ponies that were waiting for us to ride them. The browns and yellows, oranges and reds, of a western Pennsylvania autumn. The grinding and roaring of the farm machinery on display. The stacked pumpkins, gourds, squash. The food booths run by local non-profit groups like churches and Scouts.

The time of year is again upon us, and one such event, locally, is being held at Gardensource Nursery, just north of Portales. Miniature horses, face painting, craft workshops, and learning opportunities for adults are just some of the activities which Curt and Lisa Jaynes have planned for Oct. 27.

It celebrates an end, and a beginning. Personally, my garden became a focus this summer, as repairing tornado damage gave, and is still giving me, an opportunity to revamp the entire project. No, I am not joking about “opportunity.” Rebuilding is easiest if radical work is needed anyway.

So I sealed off new areas, turning grass into mulched shrubs. I increased my impromptu sculptures of large stones and driftwood. I expanded the herbs in the back. I built new wood and stone walls. Summer is officially over, and I am probably less than halfway to my vision. Thank the Creator for mild autumns.

That being true, I still find, on the “gardensourcenm” Web site, seasonal tips for approaching winter. Like a bride going through the checklist of the wedding, I run through the list of things I know by now I should do, just to make sure I don’t miss anything.

Bulbs, of course. Planting them now to give them the winter to get used to their surroundings, ready to come to life in the spring.

Lawn care: Giving the lawn a good dose of preparatory additives, so it will stay healthy through the winter. Flowerbeds, mulched over and around so that the roots will stay safe and, in our case, dog resistant.

Not forgetting that, even in winter, my favorite shrubs will need to have been fertilized and watered; how would you like it if you went to bed without supper?

The wood, timber, and stone moving will continue, even if snow comes, but these plant focused things need to be done for the sake of the growing part of our garden. Curt’s words of advice: “Taking steps now to care for your plants will insure an easier startup next spring, when you are itching to get your garden going again.”

Hope to see you at the Harvest Festival, where, like the start of this article, memories will be made for somewhere down the road.

Clyde Davis is pastor of First Presbyterian Church in Portales and a college instructor. He can be contacted at: