The pace of my annual fall chores picked up this past week. Surrendering to the foreboding weather forecast, which included the words “snow flurries”, I gave in and allowed the snow blower to make its annual appearance from the shed, rolling into position in the garage where it will await the inevitable duty of blasting winter’s gift of snow out of the driveway. There is no turning back after that, so I gathered up enough steam to start the multi-hour chore of grinding with a mower and gathering up the leaves that our trees have donated to the fall season’s glory. That chore isn’t too grueling but does take a fair amount of time, giving the happy homeowner a few hours to think about the other things that you haven’t gotten around to doing before winter or which had slipped completely out of mind.

Such as? Well, there were the last gasps of the garden where a stray cucumber had managed to evade any animals as well as a few left-over squash, clinging to a dried-up vine. Oh, and what about those potatoes that were totally forgotten, not to mention the carrots whose green tops had been dutifully mowed down and consumed by our neighborhood gang of cottontails?

This all added up to a fair chunk of unanticipated work, much of it in thick and muddy soil. Oh, the joy. Planting a garden each spring brings thoughts of some future bounty of green beans, sweet peas cherry tomatoes and other goodies, all of which you can see and pick. But those underground veggies seem to slip out of mind for some reason. I usually put more stock into the therapy that planting a garden brings than the bounty that comes later in the summer and fall. Any vegetables from the garden are a bonus, a plus.

However, I’m not so sure how much therapy can be had by while rolling potatoes out of the thick mud on a cool fall morning. And those carrots seem to have a special place and want to stay put, requiring a bit more oomph on my trusty spade. Eventually, the garden recovery ends and the fun of scrubbing the mud from the bounty begins. We’ll have fresh spuds and carrots for a few suppers and the late fall version of garden therapy will all seem worthwhile. Meanwhile those gathered piles of leaves are soggy and are bound to freeze in this week’s cold nights. It’s good to know that there will still be more to do and, hopefully, there will be some therapy from that, too.

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We’re probably all glad to see an end to the flood of election campaign advertising. Many of those campaign television ads and the direct mail ads are more than most of us can stomach. If these ads were solely about the merits of a certain candidate they would be a bit more tolerable, even though they are far too numerous. However, being bombarded with caustic and slanderous advertising that denigrates congressional or legislative candidates who are out of step with one special interest or another is a good reason for demanding action on campaign reform and a good case for overturning the infamous Citizen’s United decision by the U.S. Supreme Court.

That will take action from Congress and approval from the President, which seems unlikely at this time. Still, we can hope, and we can vote. It might take a few more campaigns but eventually enough people will get tired of this terrible way of campaigning. Most of this advertising is paid for by very well financed folks who expect much in return.

The sight of so-called temporary structures behind the congressional office buildings in Washington, D.C. is a sign of a very sick system. Congress’s own rules prohibit members from using their offices for calling and begging for money, so they have these non-descript buildings nearby that they can slip into and make calls for campaign funding. The very deep pockets of most contributors insures that they will garner attention from our congressional representatives.

It’s hard to believe their interests will line up with the general public’s needs. Now, I’m certainly not against free speech but it seems like the content of many of these ads is questionable at best. Most of the candidates claim some sort of high ground saying that the advertising is not from them and that they have nothing to do with it. That technically may be true, but it is hard not to see some sort of connection to the candidate. That needs to end. Meanwhile we can all breathe a sigh of relief that the campaigns have ended. Hopefully, there have been good candidates elected and they will make good decisions in the best interests of the general public, for all of us. __________