My husband and I were watching a young neighbor raking the leaves the other day. She seems to be desperate to have a pile of leaves to jump into. She'll be raking in her yard forever, since there are so few leaves in our neighborhood, due to the logging that was done before the builder started the development.
It brought back memories of my childhood. As kids, we didn't recognize the raking as a chore. We just knew that at the end, there'd be a great pile of oak leaves to lie in, jump in, roll in, bury ourselves in, hide in. That, of course, was the days before deer ticks and Lyme's disease....and no one thought twice about it. After we tired of those endeavors, the leaves went to the side of the street, where they were burned. Sometimes chestnuts would be thrown into the fire, where they would sizzle and pop like firecrackers.
As a child, we always had jack-0-lanterns carved from pumpkins. For the life of me, I don't remember ever going to pick a pumpkin, but there was always at least one on Halloween. Sometimes it was a big one, carved by my Dad. When we got a little older, we each carved one of our own.
One of my favorite activities in Fall was taking our little granddaughter to the North Fork for the festivities there. There was a place called Pumpkinville, where you could purchase the perfect future jack-o-lantern, or gourds of all sorts, local honey, and candy. Aside from that, the young ones found the petting zoo to be 'THE' event of the season. With a great variety of animals to feed or visit, it always caused the 'are we there yet, Papa' question from the time we started the car to go. Kimberly loved animals of all sorts, so being able to feed ostriches, goat kids, camels, ducks, a huge sow, and others just sent her over the edge. One year when she was two and a half, the camel nibbled gently at her hair. Later in the car she told us, 'the camel slurped me. Maybe he was trying to see if he remembered me from last time.' We were surprised that she'd remembered the trip from a year before!
These days our Autumn activities include a trip to Georgia to visit the pumpkin patch with our two youngest grandchildren. It's a traditiont, and we feel it's important to go. After all, the kids are growing far too fast, and we've discovered that the fun of holidays is watching the joy the little ones have in them.
As for us, as grandparents, there is no raking of leaves to be burned. Any leaves in existance are left to return to the earth to enrich the soil, which our red clay could certainly benefit from! We take pleasure in the wood smoke from the chimneys near-by and in the color of the trees as we travel about. We visit our vegetable stands and farmers markets for harvested foods, enjoy our time with the kids, and relish the cooler weather. With these attitudes, can it be that we are in the Autumn of our lives?