Trees turn golden and drop their treasures onto lawns and back roads. For a few weeks we played in a technicolor wonderland. Slowly we'd put away the toys of summer; the pool got too cold and covered up, thick plastic stretched tight across the metal rim. Out came rakes and jackets, candles in jars that smelled of baked gingerbread. The leaves became piles became playgrounds and the challenge was to flip and fall until we were covered in moldering yard waste. Our energy was boundless, until the time came to heave the full wheelbarrows down the back hill to the burn pile.
School recommenced and we re-acclimated to having to go to bed before eleven. Long, warm nights gave way to crisp chill breezes and stars that shined like the chips of mica in the asphalt. We told ghost stories and roasted marshmallows in the fireplace. The bus I rode to school was the same color as the leaves, a muted combination of mustard and goldenrod. New shoes, new pencils, new packs of notebook paper – oh how I loved it, right down to the tiny bottles of Elmer's glue.
Mom and Dad found weekends to take us North to Franklin and Maggie Valley, North Carolina. There we panned for gem stones in freezing cold water that mazed out of springs beneath the Great Smoky Mountains. Buckets of dirt promised riches and glory and we chose them based upon some superstitious combination of weight and false predictions. Oh, we mountain Gypsies, scrying in mud, finding tiny emeralds, dreaming of amethysts and luminous moon stones. What a troop we made running wild and free along the mountain streams.
Halloween came quick with corn candy, whispering tales of who we might become. Thanksgiving appeared and school closed for the annual sacrament of turkey and dressing and Mawmaw's giblet gravy. Those four days of delicious chaos capped off four months of heaven.
Autumn still holds a golden sway, beckoning me to the office supply store. Bouquets of freshly sharpened pencils are more appealing in early September than those glorious bunches of rusty mums. I find myself baking zucchini bread and finding anything that tastes of pumpkin and clove. Muscadines and pears ripen and we gather them for a weekend of making jellies and preserves. I get crafty, wandering back to my childhood of chalkboards and school boxes. The temperature's right for comfort food and I've got a recipe box just itching to be opened and splattered with fresh stains.
The door's wide open. It's a nice change from 98 degrees and 100% humidity. The days are still warm, but the evenings are just beginning to turn, just beginning to beckon hoodies out of hiding. Windows are being opened and screen porches and courtyards are finally being put to use once more. The mosquitoes are fading and it's almost time to light the fire pit. Scoop up some cider and pull up a chair. Just make sure you mind the sparks!
Happy Fall, Ya'll! (sorry...I had too.)