We’ve had a spell of glorious weather here in Canada, and last weekend the Japanese Maple in our back yard had reached the peak of perfection. The light filtering through its brilliant red leaves caught my attention, and bang went my plans for the morning. Setting an outdoor table was imperative.

Clearly, the table had to have red accents. Red transferware on a creamy quilt? Too muted, I decided. Red stemware? Those get regular outings during the season. Wait! I looked at the mug of coffee I was sipping. That’s it! Shaggy dogs with tartan scarves it is.

I was already in the middle of Christmasifying the house, so a bit more confusion and mess weren’t going to make any difference. The cushions destined for the porch found their way onto the back patio along with white knitted pillows and a throw from the basement. 

A collection of Certified International Christmas Plaid dinner plates made a varied but unified base for Shaggy Sheepdog salad plates (Pier 1, no longer available).

Small artificial trees from near the Playhouse Under the Stairs and a galvanized metal sleigh filled with greenery anchored the table’s centre.

I have only three of the Sheepdog mugs, and had I known Pier 1 was going to leave us so abruptly, I’d have bought more at the time. Rats. But red Jardins du Monde Juliska mugs (discontinued) filled in the gaps nicely, along with Hearth and Hand with Magnolia tall, dark green tumblers (eBay).

Dark red napkins in lush pinecone and greenery napkin rings continued the festive outdoor theme.

It makes for an excellent Shaggy Dog story, doesn’t it?

I wanted to yell, “Ok, weather – just stop right here. No further changes are needed.”

It was a luscious day. 

I finished taking photos, then snapped leashes on the dogs and took them for a long walk, eager to enjoy every moment of the weather gods’ gift. I understand we’ve had the warmest November in 90 years.

I am so glad I took advantage of nature’s bounty last week. Yesterday I noted that the Japanese Maple’s leaves were crumpling quickly and taking on their late-season, washed-out tone. This morning it is pelting down with cold, relentless rain. All good things must come to an end.

Thank you for giving us such a brilliant show, oh, lovely tree.

Mr. Sheep Dog will continue to delight us with his presence at breakfast for the next few weeks, and the plaid dinner plates will get a good workout for family meals. The festive season is just beginning.

I apologize to my American readers for rushing the season – I realize your Thanksgiving is still to come. If it’s too early for Christmas tables, please come back and join us at your leisure. 

We are going to try and catch a break in the downpour and get in our walk. No doubt the house will be redolent with Eau de Damp Dog for the rest of the day; Glenn will get a fire going in the fireplace and they can gently steam until they’re dry. Perhaps some sticky gingerbread with a cup of tea this afternoon; something braised for dinner…

Have a lovely Sunday, all!