When the leaves begin to color and fall and the air turns crisp and clear, I know that autumn is on its way. For many people, January starts a new year but for me, it's fall. And yes, I have been a school teacher and as the mother of two boys, I think autumn does signal a new year of sorts; new books, new pencils, new clothes. To me, it feels as if new opportunities await.
Fall reminds me of weekends at our summer cottage on Shelter Island. We had a large stone fireplace and my dad would build a crackling fire in it every afternoon and keep it burning into the evening. Even after going to bed (my room was right above the living area), I could often hear the cracks of the wood as the sparks flew. I remember feeling homey and safe hearing those sounds. I had an old gold satin feather quilt that I would wrap myself up in. It was amazingly warm. I would stroke the satin as I was lulled to sleep by the sounds of the fire and the warmth of that quilt.
Autumn meant long bicycle rides down Apple Tree Lane - a shady lightly trafficked road lined with what else? Apple Trees! It was not an "active" orchard and so the apples rotted on the branches and fell to the ground to further decay. Thus, there was an aroma about the lane that was unmistakeable.
It is one of the more idyllic memories of my childhood. There are roads near me now, canopied by trees, that awaken old memories every time I travel them.
In those days (late 50's, early 60's), burning piles of leaves in the streets was still allowed and I can remember tending the fire as my dad added more and more leaves to the mound. The smell of the leaves burning is more a memory than anything else now but every once in awhile, I catch a whiff of burning somewhere and it takes me back.
I was married in autumn - October to be exact. Probably my very favorite month, my mother was born in October, also. Because October in New York is usually "Indian Summer", we were able to have my wedding reception outdoors in a sort of 'tree house' venue. I've never been a big fan of football but I did enjoy attending game day at my alma mater (SMU). In those early 70's, guys still provided their dates with oversized mums as corsages. My bridesmaids each carried a lone white "football" mum with streaming ribbons of lime satin. I have a photo of my husband and I leaving the reception. For years, I thought that the light behind us was a "harvest" moon. It was only upon closer study that I realized that it was just a light on the path to the parking area. In my mind, however, it remains a big yellow Harvest Moon.