Sometimes I wonder if I’m predisposed to love autumn because I was born in October. My older brother was born in September and my little brother was born in November. It didn’t occur to me why we were born in succession like that until I got a little older and started counting back nine months. I realized my brothers and I were conceived in January, February, and March. Prime snuggle time. My sister was born in January so maybe 1961 had a blackberry winter.
It seems like winters were a lot colder back then. Our house didn’t have central heat and air, so wall heaters and piles of quilts my great-grandmother had made were all us kids had to keep warm at night. Mom and Dad had the same plus one another. I guess if you’re cold enough you get creative thinking up ways to keep warm.
I love a lot of things about fall. Football season is going strong and I’ve always been a fan. On top of all the games on TV every Saturday and Sunday, we had enough kids in our neighborhood to have some pretty good games in the front yard. Dad was always a good sport about us tromping down the grass and scarring up the sod as long as we did it playing ball.
The weather’s very agreeable, too. It’s nice to work around the house and not be drenched with sweat. By August I’ve pretty much had it with summer. I’m sick of the heat and the humidity by then. These days summer arrives too early and lingers too long. I’m pretty sure summer used to last around three months, give or take. The other seasons tended to arrive and depart when they were supposed to as well. Nowadays it seems like we get five months of summer, five months of winter, then spring and fall divvy up the remaining two months.
This fall is shaping up nicely, though. It got here on time and a few leaves are starting to change colors. I’ve always loved that about autumn. I live in the house I grew up in and it backs up to some woods that stretch out as far as the eye can see. Each fall the trees put on a colorful show. I’m surrounded by hickory, beech, sycamore, tulip poplar, walnut, red and white oak, as well as some trees I can’t identify.
Last winter I cut back some ivy that was starting to choke out this one tree right behind the house. The leaves on this one particular tree are magnificent every year. This little old hardwood bears the scars of lightning strikes and is twisted and gnarled from straining to get what’s left of the sunshine filtering down through the leaves of the trees towering over it. This tree’s leaves turn the deepest shade of crimson I’ve ever seen.
This little humpbacked tree that’s so easily overlooked the rest of the year becomes the star of the show for a month or so. The main attraction. I stand on my back porch in the morning looking at it with a cup of coffee in my hand and then again in the afternoon with a beer. I admire its bark all rough and filled with ridges and the twists and turns it’s taken to survive.
Standard reporter Chris Simones can be reached at 473-2191.