Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Memories Of Fall

Photo by Marilyn Morrow

The sights and sounds and smells that trigger our brains into remembering the past, are for me, most active in the fall.  About this time of year, I once asked our local hardware store merchant how he was doing. It was an off the cuff remark by me that I really was using in place of some other greeting.   He took it as a very serious question.  He said, “Well Cliff, this time of year always makes me feel melancholy.”  I asked him why and he continued, “Well, all of the trees and plants will soon be dropping their leaves, and well you know, dying off and I know that winter is not far behind.” 
I have a different take on it.  Out here on the farm we plan and plant and cultivate and make decisions all year but then September comes.  The first couple of days of low temperatures in the upper 40’s and highs in the 60’s are so very refreshing. Stepping onto the porch early in the morning and drawing in that first big breath of cold dry air is almost intoxicating. It is indeed nearing the end of life for our plants in the field but for those of us who farm, we see the finish line and it’s straight ahead. The reward for a long season of work is nearing and the weather is steadily getting colder.
I call it ‘lost sweatshirt weather’.  Every morning when you get ready to go you can’t find your sweatshirt.  Your mind rewinds to yesterday when you had it on when you went out of the door but had to take it off because… “Oh yeah, I remember now, it’s laying in the old truck.”
This time of year the blackbirds begin to ‘school’ into groups of thousands and flit and flutter and dive in what seems to be a carefully choreographed production to rival the Olympic opening ceremonies from China. We begin to stir around in our farm shops and ready ourselves and equipment for a harvest that we have high hopes for.  A harvest that might be better or worse than expected but we are eager to find the answer. 
For me, a trigger for the memories of fall include the apples turning their bright red color.  It takes me back to the times I would walk the two miles home from our little country school. In the fall I would stop and procure an apple from the neighbor’s orchard
I have the memory of being put in a wagon to help kick ear corn down into the elevator.  It sounds dangerous but thinking back on that, it’s evident that Dad put me in there so that he would know exactly where I was and that he wouldn’t need to worry about me getting into the large series of gears and drive shafts that powered the elevator.
The smell of burning cottonwood leaves, the sound of the  banging of the irrigation pipe being retrieved from a nearly mature corn field, and the sounds of geese and ducks flying overhead and the occasional barrage of gun fire from nearby hunting blinds all serve to bring back good memories of fall.
You too are about to get busy in the fields and you have your own set of memories to build on.  If you have children or grand children, make sure they get a good start on their future memories and that they are pleasant ones.
Okay, I’ll agree with our hardware store owner.  I get a little melancholy too.
Winter is right around the corner.
But then again, so is spring.
Be careful out there.
This was published in my column in the Midwest Producer Magazine back in September of 2008 but I just reread it and still thought it to be relevant.


Marty Morrow said...

thanks for reposting - I had never read it and it's strong work.

Lee said...

Every season is beautiful in its own special way. Each season brings with it its uniqueness; we just have to remember to not take our surroundings for granted; something we all do at times.

But, I wish we'd get some rain!!! It's very dry here at present.

Take care, Cliff. :)

Peter said...

Very well written Cliff, but not quite right for us in Australia... the first day of spring is breathin' down our backs.


LOVED this. I get a little melancholy too. I love the smell of burning leaves, after an afternoon spent raking them. AUTUMN is by far my FAVORITE season. ENJOY yours. Take care.


PS) That was a GORGEOUS photo your wife took.

Granny Annie said...

And so I cried...big deal. Good job Cliff and Marilyn.

Rachel said...

Wonderful fall memories Cliff. Very well written! Hope you and Marilyn are doing well.

EV said...

Falls the best. Kinda like your writing, Cliff.

Janell said...

Good essay - as usual! I've always called it "Lost jacket weather", too.

Lanny said...

I've always said that autumn is my all time favorite season, winter and summer tie for a trailing second place and I wish I could skip over spring. But autumn, what an amazing time of the year, especially the turn of the season, the end of summer the beginning of autumn it is like a month long New Year's Day for me.

I like your take on this time of year, it is always good to hear from other folks similar sentiments with their personal twist.