THROUGH THE WOODS: Fall is my favorite

Photo by Nancy Jane Kern

LOOKING OUT AT THE BEAUTIFUL LEAVES and sunny blue skies that characterize this time of year makes me very happy. I love this time of year and even the rain is enjoyed as it papers the falling leaves to my yard and drive. Each season offers its own beauty and special times, but October and fall is the best. As a young child my family ran and played with abandon on the ground and under beautiful maple trees of orange and golden leaves. We piled the crunchy brown fallen leaves up and took turns burying each other and rolling around in them. I also remember how I helped my grandfather pack the leaves against the old farmhouse foundation and placed boards on top to hold them in place. Those leaves made good insulation against the winter cold.

It also brought back the smell of fall. I would grab my horse after school, put on his bridle and take off riding bareback. I loved the smell of the horse and all the smells of damp leaves, trees, and forest floor. I am not sure why, but the woods smell different in fall and I like it. My horse loved these rides too and the cool air made him frisky and his winter coat of thick hair helped keep me warm.

Each species of tree has its form and color of leaves and I learned to identify them. Sometimes I collected perfect specimens with more vivid color to preserve and make decorations. Mom taught me to put the fall leaves between sheets of wax paper then cover them with a cloth and iron them with a hot iron. The wax melts and transfers to the leaves and seals them from the air.

We always did a lot of preparation for winter during fall and to a lesser extent I still do. Freezers were filled and there were plenty of essentials like some canned goods, flour, salt and sugar in case we couldn’t get to a store. Some of it was necessary and some was left over from traditions from my grandparents. The coming winter involved getting wood inside and starting the stoves for heat. It was cold out and we wore lots of warm wool clothes and sturdy boots. Winter will come, and that makes these happy fall days even more cherished.

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