Autumn is my favorite time of year. I love the warm sunny days with pristine white cotton candy clouds floating gently across sapphire blue skies, the early evenings as the sun sets more quickly each day, and the crisp, cool nights where the stars dominate the sky. I eagerly await the change of seasons, watching as the cool greens of summer give way to the warm reds, oranges and yellows of fall when as if in an attempt to forestall the coming cold the trees seem to burst into flame.
At the smell of burning leaves, fresh cut hay, and apples memories of growing up in a small rural Wisconsin town flood my mind. I remember tramping through the woods and fields surrounding our home on the lake, the fallen leaves crunching beneath my feet. Watching as my neighbors burned leaves and brush, the flames reaching high, crackling hungrily as they devoured summer’s leavings.
My birthday falls in late October so as a child each year my party was a combination birthday celebration and Halloween party. My friends arrived in costume. If the weather cooperated we held the party outside where we bobbed for apples, played hide’n’seek, raked and then jumped into piles of leaves, all the while pretending we didn’t recognize each other beneath our super hero capes, witches' hats and princess tiaras.
Occasionally rain or even a dusting of snow drove us inside where my poor, harried mother kept us busy playing Pin the Tail on the Donkey, Simon Says and Duck, Duck, Goose until it was time for cake and presents. In those days there were no video games; DVDs or cable, and broadcast TV consisted of three or four channels. We made our own entertainment.
Today even though I still love the fall season, now as the weather turns ever cooler, the days get shorter and the trees begin to change color I long for those carefree days of childhood. The time in my life when I didn’t know, didn’t understand, and didn’t care that autumn is merely Mother Nature’s bait and switch for the coming winter weather.