A Word about Fall:
There’s something about a drum cadence and a cool chill in the air that wakes up and conditions the soul to the birth of yet another season. Each season then brings its own holidays, traditions, and memories. I’ve had friends tell me that fall was their favorite, although I may have had an equal number claim spring, or summer. A few loved old man winter, although except for a sleigh ride or snowball fight, I’d have trouble understanding that one. I can agree with those that select fall, because after all, that’s the time for football games, warm sweaters, harvests and Halloween parties, decorating, carving pumpkins into jack-o-lanterns. Those times stand out in my memories. The earth seemed to display grand new colors to celebrate the upcoming holiday season only just around the corner. We prepared for the grand feast of Thanksgiving and the opportunities to create bonding and loving life as well as the treats of banquets yet to come.
Fall flowers that began their fiery bloom after waiting for summer bouquets to finish their songs, now filled the air with new fragrances, and for some of us, runny noses. Smoke from burning leaves fill the valleys and hang low, masking itself as a fog. The cool of the evenings and mornings brought heavy fog, sometimes totally hiding the fields and streams. We strained to see the road or signs to tell us we are on the right track.
It was finally time to switch wardrobes from the light cottons of summer to heavier rich wools and warm fleece. Jackets were searched out just in time as northern winds brought yet another drop in temperatures. A sniff of morning air gave us another sign that coal, or wood burning stoves were back in business. We enjoyed warm drinks while backing toward the stove in hopes of warming our backside. My children grew up knowing what it was to enjoy a warm fire and share the limited space beside the stove with each other. A lot of bonding and good feelings rose from those days. Even today I see them take position to a stove, whether it is lit or not.
I remember unplanned excursions into the colorful hills and a rare picnic beneath the trees so that every step sounded a crunch of dried leaves. As I recently wrote, I remember scouts camping and cooking outdoors near a running stream. I remember a trip where I ran downhill with momentum building with each step. I was unable to stop before splashing in the soggy brook at the bottom. This was the first time I’d been really bone-cold for months, but that northern wind blew sending chills when my wet pant legs touched my skin. Some protection from the cold breeze was afforded by a nearby hillside. For a moment the warm sun restored a sense of well-being, thank goodness. Sadly, when I left the protection afforded by the hill I was reminded of my folly. The goal changed for me from enjoying the day to wanting to go home to put on some dry clothing and find that warm fire.
We made porch decorations with a couple of bales of straw, some pumpkins, pine cones, wreaths, Indian corn, and maybe a peck of gourds, or apples spilling out of a basket. I remember the display on the neighbor’s front porches. It was the season when conversations among the men turned to that year’s baseball World Series. High school and colleges had already played much of their football schedules, but outdoor weekends were still sports related. Once the town finally got a swimming pool, workers had to close it for the winter and cover them with a tarp. This saved the pool from the brown, falling leaves that otherwise would have filled up with debris.
Folks in various communities and town in eastern Kentucky set to gather firewood, obtain piles of coal, and kindling to feed winter’s the fireplaces. Patio umbrellas were gathered and stored away for another season. A few days of warm sunshine are left, but each had the promise of being the last for a while. Storm clouds were not far away. Before long we knew the landscape would be white, first with frost, then with the snows to follow.
Hot cider, hot chocolate, coffee, hot tea, punch, or whatever were consumed created memories we carried throughout our whole lives. When taste or smell reminded us, we also remembered the faces, the laughter, and even the quiet times of changing seasons. Whether we were watching a football game on TV, or merely just sharing a sofa, we snuggled in anticipation of cooler days that were soon to be in charge. It was the feeling of belonging, sharing, and caring that built in our memories that mattered. This is true especially in this season.
As the leaves turned, and the wool sweaters were donned, we enjoyed the fruits of fall. Cakes, special dinners, pumpkin pies, nuts, and things like the sound of a marching band, made this a time to kick back and enjoy family, friends and maybe even read a good book. School activities were aplenty, and new friendships were welcomed. Little kids squealed as they played in the raked leaves and feasted on leftover Halloween candy. Older kids seemed to pair off into couples, sometimes beginning relationships that lasted a lifetime.
It’s here! It’s time for us again to rake some leaves, pull out our winter gear, and if we are lucky, shell some pecans, pick some apples, and settle in for more of the ‘good old days.’ There’s sorghum to grind, pies to back, and maybe a game to attend. Wake up! It’s fall. . .