The Canvas that is Autumn
Sometimes fall memories are so palpable they push in on my reality and color it with shades of sepia. There is so much about this time of year that gives me comfort. Although disliking school with a passion in my later teen years, September and October were always thrilling to me. Not living close to where I went to school, my summer was filled with neighborhood kids, but when the grass turned crisp and the grasshoppers appeared it was time to put away running bases, freeze tag and backyard tents. It was time for school and the season that followed.
I have such warm memories of autumn. I can remember sitting in my Aunt Elaine’s kitchen watching her and my mom chat. It was a warm and inviting place, playing with my cousins. Trips were made to Uncles Ray’s farm for produce. My mom and dad would be canning in the kitchen and talking about how someday they would have a farm. Of course, this did occur, but not soon enough for me. I always thought that we would move to the country.
I would wait each year for the appearance of “injun summer” in the Chicago Tribune. It would be published about the time that we would all be raking our leaves. Don’t get me wrong, I am all for banning leaf burning, but there is something about the smell of smoldering leaves wafting thru the air on an autumn evening. It was one of those things that brought neighbors together.
And our annual foray to Bell’s apple orchard in Lake Zurich was the non-Halloween highlight of the autumn season. The smell of a fresh apple, the snap it makes when you first bite into it, brings a yearning for an orchard that has gone the way of so many others. I can close my eyes and see the bushels of Red Delicious, Golden Delicious, Jonathans and Macintoshes. After our visit the smell of my mom’s kitchen was overwhelming. Apple pies, apple cake, apple bread and caramel apples. My grandma would make baked apples and my brother and I would be the recipients.
My husband and I, of course, created new traditions as our children were born...the pumpkin farms, the weekend to Door County for pumpkinfest and newly discovered apple orchards. I have discovered, as our children have grown and flown the coup, that creating traditions is a continuously changing canvas upon which we splatter new hues depending on where we are in life. But yet there are times that the pull from the past takes my breath away and for a single moment in time I am transported back to the autumns of my youth. They are such good memories.