Now that Autumn's here-- 10/06/01
Yes, I said 'way back in August that summer was ending... and the calendar would claim that the autumnal equinox arrived a couple of weeks ago... but today... today is the first day that really does seem like a true autumn day.

The weather was still too mild in late September and the leaves on the trees were still too green.

Now the leaves are beginning to show color (or colour for those of you reading this in Canada or Australia or the UK) and the temperature is more seasonally aligned. It was raining on and off this morning, with very strong wind gusts, but the temperature was fairly mild, still almost a rainy summer morning. Now, late afternoon, the rain has gone and, although there are still some gusts, the wind has mostly slacked off, the sky is blue, the sun is shining -- and the temperature has dropped. Now it looks and feels like an early autumn day.

Crisp fall days in New England -- can there be anything more beautiful? Fresh, bracing air, crisp, invigorating temperatures, blue skies, bright sunshine, children's soccer games on green grassy playing fields, and --oh! the leaves! -- crimson and golden and yellow and orange and brown and red, infinite combinations and permutations of colors, tree after tree, leafy kaleidoscopes, so bright, so splendid.

I am always amazed at how sharp and clear memories can be... no, that's not quite right, it's more that I can still recall the reality of actually having been in that moment, time traveling forward into the future at the rate of sixty seconds per minute, minute after minute, hour after hour... as Walter Cronkite used to say at the beginning of each weekly installment of the history program You Are There "What kind of day was it? A day like all days, filled with those events which alter and illuminate our time -- except You Are There." And just as I am aware of being here right now, seated at the desk in my den, typing on my laptop, a beautiful blue sky visible through the windows on my right, I can remember so many times when I was aware of being there in that moment, everything happening, senses alert, being aware of everything and then it becomes a memory and days and months and years pass and it is but a memory.

A bright October day, 1949... Miss Sullivan, my first grade teacher is taking us on a Field Trip! We walk out the door of School Number Four, leave the school yard, walking in two side-by-side lines, along the sidewalk on Lindsley Avenue, crossing Delaware Avenue (stopping, looking both ways, waiting for the command from Miss Sullivan, then quickly crossing the street), and then up Cordts' Hill road, woods on the left side of the road, the wrought-iron fence enclosed acres of lawn that, like the road, led up to the Cordts' mansion on top of the hill. We were not on our way up the hill to the mansion, we were just going to gather autumn leaves that had fallen from the huge oaks and maples that lined this traffic-free street, a safe place for two dozen six year old boys and girls to gather leaves. (I did sometimes visit the mansion at Christmas time when our church would do its annual caroling and one of our stops would be at the Cordts' mansion to serenade the two elderly sisters and their maid,)

We scampered eagerly about, picking up and rejecting leaves, searching for ones that were just right. Red and burgendy and yellow oak leaves, gold and crimson and yellow and flame-red maple leaves. Finally each of us had gathered four or five fine specimens and we returned to school where we would place our leaves on paper and trace them and then fill in the outlines with various colored crayons. Forty-two years ago and yet it as if it were but yesterday.

Autumn leaves, raked into piles, how marvelous for jumping in. Hey you kids, stop jumping in those leaves, you're spreading them all over! Piles of leaves. Don't play in those leaves, you could get run over by a car. (Grownups always had horror stories about some kid -- just your age -- who was playing in leaves, buried in a pile of leaves by his friends, and got runover and killed when his father came home from work and parked his car right on top of him and killed him dead!) Piles of leaves along the curbs. The standard way of getting rid of those piles of leaves was to burn them. The smell of smoke from burning leaves used to be part of autumn -- autumn meant colorful leaves, Halloween, football games, and always, the smell of burning leaves -- ah, no more, that would be asking to pay a fine for contributing to air polution.

Oh, yes, and speaking of autumn leaves... Don't forget AutumnLeaves Burb, online journals written by those of us who are beginning to approach the early introductory range of middle age....
Click for Autumn Leave Burb

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