Sunday, September 02, 2001

Is summer really over already?

        Disturbing proof is everywhere you look. A frog is touting fireworks. My favorite kid has new school shoes and a Barbie backpack. Our tomato connection has pronounced them “finished.”

        Summer is over. Gone.

        Put your shoes back on, put the top up on your convertible, put the mower away. Get out the rake.

        We are only a heartbeat away from coats and runny noses, from sleet and snow tires, from political yard signs and a losing football season. We are only weeks away from the musical sounds of sportsmen gunning for Bambi.

Fall whine-o-rama

        Graeter's flavor of the month is no longer the splendid Coconut. It's September's unfortunate and cloying Cookie Dough Chip. The gentle glow of lightning bugs has been replaced by the annoying dirge of cicadas.

        “Stop sniveling,” is the completely unsolicited advice from my friend, Jan Boldt. “Lots of good things happen at this time of year.”

        Name one.

        “No more belly buttons.”

        In what parallel universe? Do you think Britney wannabes hibernate?

        “OK, I'll give you that. But what about the beautiful fall foliage, the leaves crackling underfoot?”

        ...The naked trees? The ice crackling underfoot?

        “Well, that's not fall. That's winter.”

        The worst.

        “The best.”

Her favorite things

        Are you crazy?

        “Wooly sweaters and pot roast. A fire in the fireplace.”

        Oh, geez. You forgot to mention raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens.

        “You really are in a foul mood.”

        Potholes. Short days.

        “New episodes of Friends.

        No new episodes of Seinfeld.

        “Thanksgiving. Christmas.”

        Football. Shopping.

        “You should be ashamed of yourself. Those holidays bring out the best in people.”

        Oh, really? When was the last time you tried to get a parking place at Kenwood Mall in November? “When was the last time you saw a family donate food and toys for the Fourth of July or Flag Day?”

        Jan works at the FreeStore-FoodBank. She says winter is their best time. “People are full of the holiday spirit.” She says more people bring their children to the drop-off on Liberty Street. (Across from the old Grammer's Restaurant.)

        “I think they want their children to get in the habit of giving. The Christmas spirit is real.”

        Charlie Cox works in the agency's intake area. That's a drive-through bay, open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. weekdays and from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturdays. He backs her up. They're probably in cahoots.

        “One lady came in here, so happy she could help out,” he says. She'd lost everything in a fire, and “we helped her get back on her feet.” Later, the woman came back with a carload of canned goods. “Happens all the time,” Charlie says.

        Bob Rankin, director of the FreeStore's client services, says, “We bottomed out a little bit after the (April) riots, but we're coming back, heading into our big season.”

        Their big season is cold. And hungry. With people “down on their luck” standing in line to feed their kids. Hoping for a Thanksgiving turkey, toys for Christmas.

        Jan thinks the people of Cincinnati will pull through again during that wonderful, magical season.

        In a way, she says, winter is the warmest time of all.

        E-mail Past columns at


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