a Tale of Autumn
Autumn is many things like crisp brown leaves chasing each other over the sidewalks with crackling laughter, horsechestnut trees dropping their prickery burdens which spill glossy, smooth, mahogany colored nuts helter skelter around the tree. What a joy those nuts are to children. They collect them for the satisfaction of having "more than anybody". The nuts are thown in battle, rolled for the kitten or puppy to chase, or just to see who's goes farther. They can have a hole punched in with a nail and hammer, or electric drill if Dad is indulgent, and be strung endlessly. Eventually Mother will dump the whole mess in disgust, but they are fun for a while.
If you haven't done so lately, pick up a horsechestnut and hold it in your hand. It makes a most satisfying companion for a walk or sitting on a stonewall, soaking up Autumn's warm sunlight. You'll find your fingers caressing the smooth surface with great pleasure and if you drop it in your pocket, it will reappear as a friend at a later time. My grandmother always carried one as a guard against rheumatism.
Horsechestnuts make a wonderful addition to bonfires too. They stew and swell till they crack with a throaty muffled pop which adds greatly to the excitement. The swirling smoke scents the air with heavy, eye-smarting fumes. The raker stands with blistered palms and aching arms, watching the firey vanquishment of his foe, knowing full well the yard will be inundated again a day or two.
Autumn has a richness about it, a full-bodied, lusty flavor that is missing at other times of the year. Ruddy apples delight the eye and titivate the palate with their crisp skin and jucy mellowness. There are spicy fresh apple pies for dinner and dishes of hot sweet applesauce for supper. Golden pumpkins and dark green squash stand in twin pyramids by the road-side stand, bringing thoughts of Thanksgiving dinner, pumpkin pies and Halloween's jack-o-lanterns.
The homey brown jacketed potato fills basket after basket with the promise of good solid eating. the pungent perfume of grapes, green and purple, tease the nostrils and make the shopper's salivary glands insist on a purchase.
Jugs of amber cider in stately rows bring to mind Halloween parties of the past. You buy a jug and go home determined to have hot homemade fried cakes to go with it. And you have them, such is the magic of the season.
Jars and combs of golden honey, the fruit of this summer's labor by miriad bees, tease to be spread on a slice of homemade bread. No wonder, you think, that one gains pounds in the fall.
Ruby tomatos in rank upon rank of baskets beg to be carried home and stewed up into spicy relish. Remember coming home from school on a brisk October day to be greeted halfway down the block by the smell of cooking chili sauce? You had some hot from the kettle spread on bread and it tasted SO good!
You bite through the pale yellow skin of a pear as you wait to pay for your purchases. The meat is dry and grainy on your tongue but juice runs off you chin in a satisfying manner. The flavor is perfect, warm and sweet from the sun.
Trees put on their most gorgeous gown for the festivites of Autumn. Gold, flaming red, mottled green and russet, they preen themselves for a few numbered days. Then, colors faded and muted by rain and frost, they use the discarded finery for a quilt to tuck up their toes against the winter's snows, and settle themselves to dream of an even finer array for next Autumn's party.
Streams that were rushing torrents in the spring, and tinkling rivulets in July, now are stone dry with a few stagnant pools. The grass is dusty, dry and tired, bowing its collective head sadly in the breeze of passing cars. Bushes droop and shed a few mellow yellowed leaves, clinging the while to as many as possible.
Proud Mr Pheasant who flaunted his fine feathers by the roadside a few weeks ago, now seeks the deep woods thickets. He knows the hunter's time approaches and is determined not to pay for his stolen corn by providing a fine meal for anyone.
Children bring hands full of precious discoveries to Teacher. Gay leaves, milkweed pods bursting with thistledown, a glowing apple, well polished with much breathing on and rubbing on the coat sleeve all the way to school. There are sticktites and burrs to provide Mother with the irksome job of removing them from sweaters and hair and Teacher with the opportunity of explaining how seeds travel
You can make many things with burrs, you know, mats, furnuture, dolls, boxes, houses. They provide endless variations and amusement for the inventive.
Outside your window in the dark of night, the restless wind seeks vainly some unknown end. Mother Nature's leafy skirts whisper and crackle as she bustles about settling the earth for its long winter's sleep. There is so much to be done before Jack Frost comes to stay that she must work late into the night as do most mother's of large families.
Now the evergreens rouse from their summer slumbers. They stretch their branches to the invigorationg winds, examine their new growth and wait for the first cleansing shower of snow to crown their stately heads. Proudly they approach their winter's work of providing color, shelter for small animals, and joyous, heartwarming Christmas trees.