Friday, October 7, 2011

Those Autumn Leaves....

Here in SC we are just beginning to see the first signs of color on some of the trees. It will be a few weeks before the blazing glory that they usually show.  It is so pretty here that I often wonder why so many people flock to the north of us to see the display of color. We did it,too, one year...and while the views from the mountain roads looking out over the valleys was indeed awesome, I feel the same way right here in our area when those colors come.

We've got a maple tree in the diciduous stand behind the house. It gives us the most beautiful, brilliant gold every year. There are several varieties of oaks and dogwoods, as well as the sweet gum trees with their 5 pointed leaves, and all never fail to offer their vibrant gifts. Combined with the dark greens of the pines and cedars, it's never a disappointment.

When I grew up on eastern Long Island, NY, there were always leaves to rake. There must have been a certain Tom Sawyer game going on between parents and children to get us to rake, but we never caught on, if there was. We would rake the crisp, colored leaves into large piles, and then tear across the yard, taking turns destroying the crunchy mountains with our bodies. We'd pick up huge handsful of the leaves and toss them high into the air.

Eventually, all of the leaves would be raked out into the road in front of Grandma's house where we lived. Once the piles made it to the street, we were cautioned not to jump into those piles. For reasons of safety from passing cars, of course, but also because those piles would be burned and no one wanted to have to sweep them up again for that purpose.  One early evening, the leaves would be ignited, and we kids would get to toss the horse chestnuts into the fire where they would pop and snap when the heat reached a certain point. The chestnuts were enclosed in a thick covering that had 1/2 inch 'stickers' on the outside. They weren't really sharp thorns, but they looked like they would be, and we collected bags full just so we could send them flying into the leaf fire. I never knew anyone to eat that sort of chestnut, althought it might have been an edible item. I tasted one when I was pretty young, and it was just fresh from the and bitter. That was it for me. I never ate another chestnut of any kind after that day.

From the time I was a youngster to this day, I've always loved the coming of Fall. The air seems clearer, the stars brighter, the days cooler, the sun more brilliant. The show-offy leaves a-turning, the rising woodsmoke on the night air and the brisk walks through the crispy, fallen, musty-smelling leaves, makes Fall one of my favorite times of the year...and this year reinforces that for me!