Sunday, October 5, 2014

Sunday Afternoon Back Home in Chicago and the Pleasures of Fall

It is early afternoon, and an absolutely beautiful day.  There are boats on the water, and seagulls flying low, catching filled shells for a meal, only to drop them nearby.  Sometimes, I will see remnants of shells in my yard, or on my roof   As I look out my window and wonder what to write, it hits me...a memory from childhood.  Growing up in the Chicago area, we were blessed with so many forest preserves, and what made them so special was the abundance of oak trees.  Color change here, though beautiful,  doesn't hold a candle to back home, where the reds from those oak trees were predominant and brilliant, followed by vibrant oranges and yellows.  Throw in a few riding stables that were dotted in between some of the preserves, and it was a scene out of Currier & Ives.  It didn't get much better than that.  At this time of year, my parents would take my sister, brother and me to a nearby forest preserve for a "picnic dinner".  We would stop somewhere, pick up sandwiches, park at the preserve and go find a picnic table with the prettiest scenery.  And, if it was a windy day, the leaves would tumble down from the trees in a snowfall of color.   I remember as a kid in the yard, raking leaves in piles resembling small mountains, only to pick up as many as my hands could hold, and throw them up in the air.  I knew what the end result would be, but such unabashed pleasures were so few and far between it was worth it.  The smell of burning leaves in someone's yard on a crisp, fall day was sheer heaven.  Going outside at night, and getting that aroma of someone's wood-burning fireplace...cutting open a pumpkin and getting that first whiff of pulp and seeds, pure sublime.  I close my eyes and breath in, imagining myself back home, and i can smell the smoky air and the pumpkins.  It makes me rather melancholy, as it was so long ago.  The stables are gone, my parents are gone, and I am now in the northwest, far away from all of those things that invoked so many good memories...my mom making a pot roast or my dad bringing home taffy apples, as we called them back in Chicago...and I now get a little misty-eyed just thinking of all of this.  Do you have a fond memory of the fall?  If you do,  please stop and take a moment from whatever you're doing, take a deep breath in and bask in the pleasure of that memory...it will take you back, if only for a short time, to a place and time that was...a lovely place...

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