Autumn sneaks up on me like a kitten wearing mittens on its feet. It seems like summer is going along smoothly and then suddenly leaves begin to turn and fall creeps into the yard one night and makes the car windows fog the next morning.
I wonder if we call that season fall because the leaves fall. Autumn is crispy crunchy leaves that sound like eating shredded wheat. Caramel apples reappear at the fall festivals. BW makes them and hers are the "bestest ever was" to use a phrase my brother used when he was a nipper.
I like autumn because it is sweater weather and that makes me feel comfortable. We open the windows at night and sleep under a quilt and that feels cozy.
Autumn has the deepest blue skies that look like you could walk over and touch the cotton candy clouds that scurry across the sunny countryside. The heavy, dank, musky air of summer is pushed aside by the light, crisp, fresh Canadian air that fills the earth with renewed energy. The sun is moving back southward and the shadows of the afternoon are long and bold like a regiment of soldiers on a 50-mile hike.
The smell of burning wood is a sign of Autumn. Autumn means hiking in the woods at the farm or McCormick's Creek. Squirrels keep a wary eye out as we saunter by. They don't quite trust us as they continue to make deposits in the nut bank for winter. Woodpeckers rat-a-tat-tat looking for grubs and other critters that live in dead trees. They call to each other and I try to understand, but I am not bilingual enough to comprehend. The breeze blows gently through the trees bringing on its breath the approaching smell of Winter. The wind moans through the tree branches and they drop their leaves of modesty exposing their nakedness to the world; trunks rub against each other in a symphony of squeaks as they shiver. Jack Frost has been busy with his Autumn palette painting the leaves red, yellow and orange a veritable sight for sore eyes.
Corn stalks rustle and bean stalks rasp as combines rumble through the fields harvesting the life-sustaining grains. The air whispers in my ear and yanks me outside to revel in the fallness that promises good things. Each year I yearn for my first golden delicious apple right from the orchard. At night the stars and moon are so bright it seems like I can reach up and touch them. Steaming mugs of cider warm my insides. Hot chocolate coats my tongue and makes my taste buds do dance moves that Fred Astaire could never emulate. Roadside stands with pumpkins, mums, apples and the last of the vegetables remind me of home; permanence and stability of life; the strength and meaning of a life lived well. It is magical making jack-o-lanterns with my granddaughters as I am swept back through the years when we did the same with our daughters. I go back ever further when I was a rag-a-muffin kid and we made them on the farm in the frosty, crisp days of autumn long, long ago. Ain't God Good to Indiana.
Larry Vandeventer grew up north of Calvertville on a farm and graduated from Worthington High School. He lives in Plainfield and can be reached at Goosecrick@aol.com or 317-839-7656. Write him at 6860 Sunrise Drive, Plainfield, Ind., 46168. He has written five books.