“Come, said the wind, to the leaves one day. Come o’re the meadows, and we will play!”
This children’s song from the latter part of the 19th century reminds me of just some of the joys of this season called Fall.
French novelist Albert Camus noted that “Autumn is a second spring when every leaf becomes a flower.” Naturalist John Burroughs observed, “How beautifully leaves grow old. How full of light and color are their last days.”
The above verse recalls the hours spent and the opportunities to come to watch the flight of colors swept about by the cooling breezes now so welcome after the heat of summer.
Crimson shades of sassafras, dogwood and red oak; yellowed tints of redbud, hickory and cottonwood just a few of the palette Nature puts before us. Often set in front of clear blue skies and greening fields.
There are other memories, just as endearing. The gathering as communities to harvest and mill sorghum and make molasses. The same shared experience in the production of apple butter.
Typically, the work of individual families, the cutting and splitting of firewood for the coming winter. The harvesting of corn, to be shucked and stored for winter food for livestock. The collection of acorns for the same; this after the end of open range.
There were pie suppers. The chance, for a mere dime, to walk hand-in-hand with the cute brunette that sometimes smiles at you during lunch. To perchance even be stopped on that magically drawn number when the music ceased; and to allow her to select the cake of her choice. Later, to outbid all comers; and to be served the pie for which you had saved.
All of this while intermittently being entertained by fiddlers and pickers from around the neighborhood. Play parties with card games and musical chairs. Taffy pulls and “hoedowns.”
Hay tunnels and bobbing for apples at the Halloween party held annually in the community. Music and good food. Bonfires and s’mores.
There was also hog scrapings and the firing up the smokehouse. Pulling all the scattered nails from the south-facing barn wall, in preparedness of tacking up new hides. Pouring grease over the daily rations of Blue Ribbon dog feed; this to “slick ‘em up” for hunting season.
It has been often declared that for Man, this is a time of gathering and harvest. For Nature, one of “sewing, scattering abroad.” Seeds find new ground; from grasses and wildflowers to trees and shrubs. Earthen nurseries for fresh life.
Perhaps, Autumn should also be when we begin new things. If not the building of structures, at the least design of their foundations. We think of Spring as the time to begin anew, knowing full well the challenges of summer will often detour or delay them. Maybe this “hush before winter” is time to sew new plans? New goals?
For the majority of us, we are not wading snow to feed livestock or chopping ice so they can water. Even those still heating with wood typically have furnaces that need fed twice daily. A lucky few use the decreased amount of daylight to practice music and crafts.
I am going to take a page from childhood; when we sat and stared at the backdrop of blue skies and watched leaves blow across our lives.
We dreamed of kingdoms we would conquer and worlds to explore.
When we thought about that which was “true… honorable… right… pure… lovely.” I plan to now meditate on such things; better to be acceptable in His sight.
(Rick Mansfield is a seasoned storyteller and writer, and is always looking for new audiences. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.)