When I write a couple of articles to get ahead, the weather I may mention at the time of writing may be nothing like what I described by the time the Sun reaches your doorstep. It’s been crazy, the weather that is, for the past month or so. Rain, humidity, quagmires, and floods, occur almost weekly, it seems. So, it goes with this one as well.
“Tomorrow night” the low is predicted to be 55 degrees. You “read” me right, 55 degrees. As previously mentioned, this prediction was at the time of writing. Who really knows what it will be? However, if our local weather channel and meteorologists are even remotely correct, we should feel like kicking our heels up a bit. Maybe, just maybe, this will be the first true sign that fall is on the horizon. I had to laugh when I mentioned to JH what the predicted lows are to be and he replied, “that’s just great, it’ll probably be too cool for the cotton defoliants to work now.” You know we’re never satisfied. Too hot or too cold? We put sugar in our tea to make it sweet, then we add a lemon. Have you ever thought about this? Quite comical, isn’t it? Let’s just pretend they got this one right though. What is the first thing you thought about when the crisp, clean air, penetrated your lungs? Was it the state fair? Was it college game day with all the fixings? To each our own, but I would love to hear what this “snap” urged you to recall, so give me a call sometime and please share your thoughts with me. For now, though, I’ll share with you what it did for me.
I guess I always go back to elementary school when that first blast of arctic air pushed through. Back in the day though, the playgrounds were alive with us kids rough housing and chasing each other round and round the monkey bars. Football was already embedded within our souls, and while the girls cheered, our teachers fondly admired our antics. I remember the aroma of the lunchroom where the “lunch ladies” resembled that of nurses in their uniforms. This brings me to the two, that’s right, two homemade yeast rolls that adorned our trays every day in the school cafeteria. Fluffy throughout, and crispy on the top. Does this remind you of the Elite, Primos, and the Mayflower? I’m telling my age now, aren’t I? I would gobble one of the rolls down, and the other would go into my pocket and endure whatever else remained in the day until I ran down the steps of bus 85 to my home. I couldn’t wait to pull the crumpled mass of flour, wheat, and lard, from my pocket to share with my mom. My token from the lunchroom was the highlight of her day, at least that’s what she told me. I would watch her take a bite and I would embrace her smile before I was off to my room for the BB gun. Who really knows what she did with it when the door slammed behind the six-year-old frontiersman, but at least for a moment, she took the time with love, sand, and grit, to partake of my gift, and all that goes with a young boy’s treasure for his caregiver, tutor, nurturer, and everything else that goes with being a mom? Yes, somehow, fall brings me back to the dear and golden school days.
Do you remember the chapel programs when each grade performed for the other classes with a particular theme? My 1st grade was fortunate to acknowledge and celebrate Thanksgiving through our performance. I was the narrator, but oh how I wished I was the “Pilgrim” that jogged around the stage carrying the BB gun wearing the coonskin cap looking for a wild turkey for the Thanksgiving feast. The star of the play was Rex Miley and who knows where he is today. I polished my gun in the hope that I was the chosen one, but alas, I just read the script on how the first Thanksgiving came to be. By the way, Mrs. Barker coached me, and yes, thanks to her, I read the entire script.
Those fall mornings in school began with the daily devotional and the pledge of allegiance. We said yes ma’am and no sir. We did our schoolwork even though the boys may have been thinking about the opening day of squirrel season. Our grades were the judge of whether or not we would accompany our dads to the hickory flats with our 410 shotguns. The first frost also played a role, or at least we were told that. Cottonmouths were still out, and I wasn’t allowed to go to the woods until the snakes went in for the winter. Thinking back, many times we had a frost by the first of October, but now it’s rare. Global warming, perhaps? Now Jeff, don’t go there right now. Anyway, the first “push” gets me to thinking about those wily fox squirrels in those “hicker” nut trees and the fond memories of dad and I chasing them through the hills and ridges.
There were so many school songs that still resonate with me during fall. I can’t remember their exact titles, but does this chorus bring back memories? “Over the river and through the woods, to grandmother’s house we go; The horse knows the way to carry the sleigh, Through white and drifted snow!” The lyrics, which belong to the well-known writer Lydia Marie Child, represent her own childhood memories of going to visit her grandfather’s house on Thanksgiving Day. Did you notice I inserted “Grandmother’s” house? That’s what I grew up singing, but the original version, “The New-England Boy’s Song about Thanksgiving Day” first published in the volume “Child’s Flowers for Children in 1844, refers to her grandfather. Don’t get bogged down in details, but do you remember the song? For you wonderful teachers, do you offer this song to your students in the fall? What about America the Beautiful? How about “You’re a Grand Old Flag” by George M. Cohan? These songs were such a huge part of the coming of fall. When tied in with Charlie Brown’s Halloween episode, “The Great Pumpkin” or the iconic movie, “The Wizard of Oz”, what better treat is there to inspire kids for the coming of Autumn?
Before school started each morning in fall, I remember watching the advertisement embracing “Magnolia Dog Food.” I’m not even sure if this company is still in business. I’ll have to do a little research. I would almost be late catching the bus waiting to see the setter and pointer come to a point while the two gentlemen, clad in “bird britches” and canvas vests, waded into the rising covey. Remember, I was only six, but the thought of me walking in behind the brace of bird dogs, even back then, still defines not only what I wanted to be, but who I wanted to be. On occasion I was lucky enough to catch the commercial before my mom exclaimed, “I think I hear the bus.” I knew it was then time to go.
Mrs. Barker and Mrs. Ponder, would from time to time during fall bring delicacies to our class like candied and caramel apples, rice krispies treats, and pumpkin spiced cupcakes. Why didn’t we have video capabilities back then to capture the glee in our eyes when these treats were unveiled. On second thought, we are probably better served to embrace the memories without the aid of technology. Is the cell phone, in reality, a curse? Convenient, yes, but what goes along with it these days? We crucify a young lad that wanders the neighborhood stalking squirrels and redbirds from Mr. Olson’s bird feeder, but we seem to dismiss the potential tragedy of allowing a youth to play video games that embrace and encourage rampant shooting in the streets. Have you seen some of these “games” that promote violent shooting? Am I digressing from my topic of the cool air that inspires wonderful thoughts about fall? I think I am, but perhaps I am also planting seeds. I’ll invite you to read between and beneath the lines.
What will you do tomorrow night during the change from the north? Will you make a dove gumbo from your most recent harvest? Will you begin to look for classic movies to share with your family? What about over the river and through the woods? Will you share? Are you even aware of this song? Surely, you are! Take a moment to walk out on your patio and take a deep breath. Feel the sting of brisk, arctic air deep within you. Think back on your most fond memories when fall arrives in all her splendor. Is it at school, on the hiking trail, or just at home? Regardless of where, enjoy, and please think about sharing your most fond memories of the first blast of cool air with your family. I promise, you’ll be glad you did. Until next time enjoy our woods and waters and remember, let’s leave it better than we found it.