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Saving September

I'm sure you've heard that America has cracked right in half, with one side flooded and the other on fire. And there's not enough money for relief, because it's all earmarked to persecute the only people who actually want to live here. The news, from local reports all the way to the BBC and Al Jazeera, has been awful.

At the last meeting of the esteemed Pigasus Pen (my noveling group), we agreed that the hilarious romance novels created by half of our team, Meika Usher and Christina Mitchell, are like psychological panic rooms where we can escape the horrors of Real Life for a laugh and a swoon that just might save our whole day--and our will to keep on writing. Pigasister Victoria Solomon needs strength to enter the turbulent, poisoned waters of YA lit's mean girls, and I need a little sugar to fuel my epic journey through a tale of serial killers and child slavery.


And romance novels alone aren't going to save the day. They are an essential component of a doom survival kit, but I need more! It's harvest season, and I'm hangry. Winter is coming and all that. It's time to feast on life--drink the floods and eat the fires, do whatever impossible things are necessary to conquer the gloom and create that satisfying story arc and miraculous resolution.

So here is my plan to save September:

1. Build a bunker of paper-bound novels and activate all of my home's hygge systems. This means romance and more. I know it's not even available until the Eve of All the Hallows, but I can still make space on the shelf and in my dark, creepy heart for Gregory Maguire's new book Hiddensee. The cover alone makes me hungry for nuts...

2. Bake the fruits of summer. This year's harvests have been blessedly good, I guess, considering the sometimes catastrophic failures of the season that have become the new normal with climate change. Michigan's berries and cherries have been plentiful. I made a scrumptious blueberry yogurt cake that was quickly, enthusiastically devoured by adults and picky children.

The wild creatures great and small who share the use of my land have helped themselves to most of my apple crop this year, but I did manage to gather enough to bake a pie, which I am now eating for breakfast with vanilla ice cream.

I don't quite understand what Ms. Corn is trying to do in my front yard, but she has now attempted a total of nine corncobs, and it looks like she may finish the season with a total of three edible ears of corn. This is madness. Maybe it was the marijuana farm topsoil we used. But even if the creatures great and small get to her sweet kernels before we do, she'll make some lovely front porch decorations for fall, and then we'll toss her in the woodstove for heating fuel.

3. Wash down the baking with mulled cider spiked with Viking Blod honey and hibiscus mead. Do I need to explain this? The picture is the recipe. Simmer everything except the mead together for 20 minutes, then spike. It tastes like a drunken wedding at a cider mill. (Omit the final step of spiking before serving to small Vikings.)

4. FREEDOM! We've decided to go ahead and hack the driveway, because construction season has no end in sight, and it looks like our "moat" may be a permanent feature of our driveway for the foreseeable future. Maybe it will fill with ice and snow come winter. Until then, my husband has crafted a stylish drawbridge of plywood scraps so that we can enter and exit our driveway in our vehicles without busting a wheel.

5. Wear shoes that look like granny's sofa. While I'm speaking in autumnal metaphors, I've experienced a delay in my already-too-long schedule of maintaining my hair color, resulting in a few inches of silvery roots. Instead of resorting to extreme measures to get it "fixed" immediately, I went thrift store shopping for Ann Taylor Loft clothes (I'm too old for Forever 21, but not too old for adorably ironic Ann Taylor, right?) and purchased a new pair of ankle booties that resemble a grandmother's upholstery. With silver highlights to match my hair.

What can I say--I've been inspired by the September issue of Allure with Helen Mirren, which celebrates women who take pride in their appearance without trying to look younger.

6. Watch the news, but don't get stuck in it. There are literally fires, floods, and other catastrophes unfolding across America, so we need to maintain, as Professor Moody screams during my daughter's bedtime stories, "CONSTANT VIGILANCE!" But we need to make sure we don't get frozen, paralyzed, despondent, or too frustrated to act with energy and bravery as needed. We need each other more than ever right now, so, as Disney's latest version of Cinderella repeats, "Have courage and be kind." Put on your own oxygen mask first, and then be ready to do whatever it is you have to do.

Courage and kindness!


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