Monday, September 21, 2009

Autumn Is Upon Us

The Autumnal Equinox occurs this coming Tuesday at 4:18 a.m. I’m on vacation this week, so I plan to set my clock and get up just to make sure everything happens on time and without incident.
Yes, autumn is upon us, but it didn’t take the Farmer’s Almanac or a Wikipedia Internet search to tell me fall was around the corner because I could see it in the quality of the light filtering through the oak and pine trees. When ironwood leaves turn the color of home churned butter and sumac leaves turn sunset red, you know that fall cannot be far behind.
People love autumn for many reasons and I could make a list a mile long beginning with autumn leaves. It’s not only the color of the foliage, which here in Alabama can be stunning, but also the smell of burning leaves. They don’t taste that good, but “two out of three ain’t bad.”
One of my chores as a kid was raking leaves from under the gigantic cottonwood and sycamore trees in our yard in Sloss. I raked mountains of leaves and then I’d dive in like a Hawaiian cliff diver.
I wasn’t allowed to burn the leaves unless one of the older kids was around, but when I’d had as much fun as I could stand, my older brother Neil would fire those piles of leaves up. I sat on our concrete steps for hours and watched those burning leaves until there was nothing left but embers.
Even today, a hint of autumn smoke puts a smile on my face and sends me back in time to when I was 10 years old and sitting on those steps again.
I also love the sky in autumn. It seems to be a richer shade of blue and I don’t believe the moon gets any prettier than in the fall. Last year as we headed home after a visit with our nephew and his wife, who live in Oakman, we saw a light filtering through the trees. We weren’t sure what it was at first, but when we came to a clearing, we saw the full moon as bright as a spotlight just above the horizon. Jilda and I got into a competition to come up with a word that best described the moon. “It’s the color of orange sherbet,” I suggested. That was close, but Jilda won the prize when she said, “it’s a Dreamsicle Moon.” I immediately conceded because I knew I would not come up with anything that rivaled that description.
Autumn to me is the best time of year to walk. We have a yard full of older dogs and there’s nothing they love better than going for a walk. When the weather warms, they walk for a while but they soon get hot, seek the shade of the back porch and wait for us to return.
But in autumn when the sun is warm and the air is crisp, they run around as if they were pups.
Another reason I love autumn is the harvest. Our apples turn a deep crimson a few weeks before the first frost, and are sweeter than dime-store candy.
The veggies that we grow and store in the summer are biding their time until the first cold snap. Jilda then builds the masterpiece that is her vegetable soup. I bake up a pone of my world famous cornbread, and we get down to some serious eating.
Yes I enjoy all seasons, but thanks to football, carving Halloween pumpkins, as well as the aroma and taste of Thanksgiving turkey, I think autumn just might be my favorite.

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