“MeMe, is it fall?” sweet Emma asked on her way to preschool. “Why? Where is summer?”
The changing season, a small child wondering at is all. Why? Well, I could have gone into a scientific explanation, but even for me that is a bit boring.
“Honey, it is time for the trees to rest and the leaves to fall so we can play in them.”
The explanation seemed make her happy, and it made me happy. I love fall.
The smell of fall, the crispness in the air, the putting away of summer clothing and slipping into a nice warm sweater. What is not to like?! Perhaps there is a deeper reason. It began back on Neff Road.
The corn picker hummed its way across the field. Wagons were overflowing with field corn that was destined to Scammahorn’s grain elevator or was heading into the corn crib, my summer playhouse. The corn was shoveled onto the elevator that carried it up and into the crib. I sat up above watching it fill the bin, oblivious to the little critters that were also eagerly watching, watching their winter pantry fill. It was time with Dad.
Tobacco hung in the shed not yet ripe enough to strip. The sheep were donning their winter coats. The cows seemed more content to stay close to the barn. Kids were back in school, and beds as well as people were dressed for cooler weather.
It was the one time of the year that I had my parents. Mom no longer cooked for hands. Dad had put the farm to rest. We lingered around the kitchen table more and neighbors came to visit. Doris stopped in a couple of times a week. That distance between houses was just perfect for a nice fall walk. Relatives came to visit and sometimes stayed overnight. It was a time of being in the house. A time of socializing and laughter.
Dad had chopped enough wood to keep the fireplace going for most of the winter. Mom laid in hot dogs, buns and potato chips, always prepared for a special night of roasting hot dogs. Those nights were the best of the times on the farm. My parents were youth leaders. It was not unusual for us to have a basement full of kids on a Sunday afternoon. The ping pong table was busy downstairs while a group of kids sang around the piano upstairs. Our house was full of laughter.
We always shared our parents with so many people. The Loxley daughters appreciated the time when were had them all to ourselves. We sat in the kitchen and visited with Mom while she puttered around. There were no hands to feed. No huge meal to get ready. She had time to talk. Dad spent equally as much time in the kitchen, watching the birds out the west window. It was the beginning of that precious family time that was rare any other time of the year.
The fall evenings were cool. There were more daily walks to the bridge. We knew that they would soon disappear with the winter weather. We hung over the side of the old, black bridge, looking for any frogs or crawdads that just might be lingering. Leaves fell and the woods became an artists canvas of color.
Cousin Betty had a puzzle ready for downtime during cold weather. The freezer was full. New bedding and clean barns were provided for the livestock. Dad’s equipment was stored, oiled and resting for a time. Aunt Welma baked cookies and her nieces played beauty shop styling her hair. It was a time of family, of quieter moments and listening to gossip and family history.
No wonder fall makes me feel all snuggly inside. It is that crawling back into the cocoon of Neff Road again feeling the warmth of family and friends.