Saturday, October 18, 2014

Part 1: What is in a fall day?

Fall carries with it for most of us such feelings, emotions, senses so as to enrich the eventual coming of winter. For many it is a favorite time of year with its smells of leaf decay, feel of chill in the air, sight of colors all bounded by russet, sound of leaves crunching and thrashing underfoot.

To see piles of leaves as tall as I am, piled in the street waiting to be vacuumed up by large trucks the city sends around overwhelms me. As a child we used to play in these piles, popping out to scare and pretend fright. A carefully collected assortment of reds, oranges, yellows and still greens would be pressed into the dictionary or arranged on the dining room table by a supportive, nurturing mother.

Then there would be that acrid, sweet, memory filled smell of leaves burning at the curb now outlawed because of pollution. But what wonderful pollution it was. A bonfire to celebrate your efforts at gathering the seasons discard, only to regather again in a few days or the next weekend.

You can still get a peek at this memory now and then when you are driving in the country past a farm where a burn is burning, apparently still allowed. I always stop the car, roll down the windows, inhale, and exhaleingly sigh.

Always a great time in the fall, during the autumn, is taking a walk in the forest preserve down a path covered almost to disappearing with the effects of the season as the colors of the leaves remaining on the trees disappear into a vanishing point far away. Sometimes over dressed, sometimes chilled and underdressed with the unpredictability of the season we would find a fallen tree to perch on and amaze at the wonder.

Then there are the Jewish holidays celebrated during the fall: Rosh Hashanah (a solemn holiday beginning the calendar year with repentance from sin and the hope of renewal,) Yom Kippur (a fast day of prayer and collective confession,) Sukkot (a holiday to celebrate the harvest and move into a temporary hut in the back yard,) Simchas Torah (a holiday to celebrate finishing the reading of the Torah scroll for the year and starting it over again to symbolize the never ending nature of Jewish law.) 

Trips to the apple orchard, some two or three hours outside the city, were and still are always a festive event. Never went to pick them off the trees as many do but rather to walk through the chilly barns with bushel basket after bushel basket and box after box of every type of apple you never realized existed.

There is something romantic about those one handled bags in which you would fill your selection to purchase. One price for a filled smaller bag, another price for the larger filled bag. At the place we go you could sample any apple you wanted until your tummy growled. There was also freshly pressed apple juice to sample in cups that were too small and necessitated a refill.

Candy, candy, candy at Halloween is a good way to continue the season. Costumes and Trick or Treat and parties and candy by going from door to door to beg for more. "Trick or Treat, Money or Eats," we would chant as kids. Costumes and parties as we grew older took over the trick or treat but we would always squeeze in a few requests on the way to our party.

Now as adults, we buy candy to pass out to those who frequent our doors but more importantly, I think, is that we can buy our own candy, our favorites, and fill our own bowl without having to beg or trip over the hems of our costumes. We can snatch a piece or two whenever we want.

Memories. Ah memories. Fall. Autumn. And we have only gotten to the end of October. In another post, I will reminisce about what is in a fall November day. 

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