Remembering the sound of leaves rustling, the smell of them burning, and the taste of the cider that followed.
“Anyone who thinks fallen leaves are dead has never watched them dancing on a windy day.”
A few of my favorite words about fall are found in this quotation by blogger and environmental consultant Shira Tamir. A vividness of color and action emerge from them.
I was struck again, as I am annually filled with wonder, by the brilliant hues of autumn as I was driving recently through western Pennsylvania and northeast Ohio. Trees are turning with brightness in the sun and the color of leaves they already have lost “danced,” in Tamir’s terms, along the side of the roadways on which I traveled. By the time I reached my destination my home now and the home that I remembered from my childhood, my senses were aroused by both reality and recollection.
“There is something incredibly nostalgic and significant about the annual cascade of autumn leaves.”
I could see the brilliant reds and oranges on the hillsides, smell the autumn odors of dried leaves and damp earth, and I could hear the rustling of leaves in the lawn of my memory as they were kicked by the feet of a handful of neighbor friends. Past autumns mingled easily with the present season.
Touching and seeing and hearing the memories of the autumns of our past is not a difficult thing for those of us who love the season. You have the reoccurring smell of fading vegetation, the fresh feel of the chilling air around us, the new sounds allowed to reach us because trees are increasingly devoid of their leafy barriers.
Oh, and we have the taste of pumpkin spice. Doesn’t every food and drink have a pumpkin spice version these days?
Some of my fondest memories are of fall activities, such as “helping” my father rake the leaves in our yard at a time when I could barely hold erect even the smallest rake in our arsenal of winterization weapons. Oh, I would move a leaf or two closer to the pile that he was gathering, but was of little other assistance. Still, I was there, a little homeowner in training, a companion to my father in his labor.
We were bribed. We both knew it. But, neither the dog nor I protested or turned down from the treats that followed.
Reminders Of Fall
I still can taste the apples that my father handed out when we got back inside. I can feel the hot cider cascading down my throat.
Autumn is a feast of flavors that are unique to the season. Pumpkin pie is one of them. I rarely eat pumpkin pie outside of autumn. Nor do I cover my apples with caramel at any other time than fall. Cinnamon? Nutmeg? Neither is a spice I recognize during any other months than those at the end of the year.
And, I doubt that I would drink a pumpkin beer unless there was some strong seasonal reason for it.
The annual reasons to enjoy autumn indeed are strong ones. Some, such as pumpkin spice coffee or pumpkin roll, simply taste good. Others — the raking of those leaves comes to mind — are fall tasks that need to be done and are enjoyed mostly because of the relief felt following their completion. A few memories of autumn we appreciate because they linger, stay with us through the years, and we can call them up decades later, as we drive, for example, through the autumn color flanking interstate highways.
“We’re done,” I can hear my father say, to me more than the dog, but the dog was excited, too. “Now, let’s go get that cider.”