My Favorite Month

August 25, 2006  Friday

I have found that I enjoy every season for what they each can offer.  Long cold nights, cozy in front of the fire in winter; the first breath of Spring and the budding of the trees, rain showers; sticky summer afternoon with lemonade and BBQs while baseball is being played, the blades of grass between your toes.  And all the holidays throughout.  But my favorite is the fall.

There is a rebirth about fall very much like in Spring, because it is when we have always returned to school.  The turning of late August into September right now–brings to mind shopping trips to town with Mom for now school clothes, book bags, and the begging for the cool shoes like everyone else, which I sometimes got.  It was a chance to see friends again I had not seen all summer.  It was exciting in the prospect of something new and above what I had done the year before, mixed with trepidation of leaving behind what was familiar.  The new 2006-2007 school year for Elmwood actually kicks off today, and Mom is again at her post with yet another new 5th grade class; it begins all over again.  It will be odd returning to school in the dead of winter, I already feel it.

The fall sports.  The football team gearing up for homecoming, the sandwich-board signs around campus, the talent show and so much more, especially in college.  Friday nights standing along Elmwood’s tiny field with the rest of the town, lamenting a growing Trojan loss, or later the raging stands sensing a coming Leatherneck win in Macomb.  Sunday afternoons spent with my dad watching the Bears, win or lose, but hopefully win if they were playing Green Bay.

Random memories…  In 1984 I won a drawing contest in kindergarten of a scary haunted castle, with the prize money enough that I went to see Ghostbusters playing in town… the first Saturday morning of the new cartoon lineup, trying to figure out the best new shows to devote your time to… always the first chilled morning, a stiff cool breeze that hadn’t been there before as a frost has appeared during the night, and I wisely return indoors to get the new coat I had been waiting to use… the harvesting of the crops in the fields, tractors laying barren their once-green lands, with the occasional hold-up on the country roads because of it…  The annual three-day Fall Festival in late September, with it’s own memories of lip-sync contests (I was Elvis one year, Otis Redding with “Sitting on the Dock of the Bay” another), parades I marched in as a Cub/Boy Scout through town, the Saturday afternoon chalk-drawing contest I would always win, who was judged by the only local expert in art, the high school art teacher Mrs. Cardiff–then wasting all the money on ride tickets, rip-off games, and food…  the Connor family wiener-roast every fall on my grandparents farm.  I always remember riding up the road and seeing Grandpa outside preparing the fire.  It was always in the middle of the farmyard, which was always impeccably kept.  When everyone would arrive we would roast hotdogs and sit outside on lawn chairs until it got late enough to toast the marshmallows.  The last time we did this was 2000, when Grandpa was in a wheelchair from the stroke he had had the previous fall.  That year it was Roger who loaded up the truck to the hayrack to drive us around the dark void of the country as the stars were overhead.  Another memory from the farm was taking upon myself to harvest the fruits in Grandma’s tiny orchard, the wild grapes, apples, and blackberries and raspberries, usually just enough for a small bowl of be savored until the next year… raking leaves in garbage bags and feeling this was a HUGE task, and being paid maybe a quarter a bag… the scent of burning leaves wafting into my nose, the feeling of that unmistakable air of fall approaching even on a sunny day (I felt this last year in Hampton when I walked out the door us your house one Sunday afternoon)… puzzling for a long time on what to be for my favorite holiday Halloween, and then having a mom who would actually sew a costume for me.  Years that stand out:  a caveman, a spy in a suit, Dracula, Mario, Roger Rabbit, Superman, a cowboy.  Of course the feeling that every year was going to be a haul, and we weren’t going to stop until we had been to every house, in which we would run down a street or two, zig-zagging, and the light’s on Mom’s car would follow us to take us to another section of town.  I always liked dividing all the candies up later, to see how many Snickers, how many popcorn-balls…  but Elmwood can be mistaken for Vermont or New Hampshire in the fall, and the streets are overhung with large trees alit with brilliant yellows and brightly burnt oranges and reds.  It’s beautiful to see… of course there is Thanksgiving, and both of my parents’ b-days in October.  Yes, I like fall very best of all.

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