Thursday, October 9, 2014

Autumn in the Rockies

Most every summer I wait and wait, anticipating the first hint of autumn in the Rockies. It's a beautiful sight. Aspens aglow, quaking in the breeze. It literally looks like gold with a background of azure skies. Our front yard is surrounded by aspens and we have often remarked that we feel as if we are encased in a cocoon of ore right out of the gold mines of Cripple Creek and Victor.

Autumn holds for me memories of a childhood spent raking leaves then running and falling into them, laughing so hard I could scarcely catch my breath. Back in the day, we were still allowed to burn our leaves and I can still, if I concentrate hard enough, smell the aroma of burning leaves on a crisp fall day.

When I was little and my big sisters were in high school, there were sometimes bonfires on an empty lot on the main drag of L.A. (what is commonly known to everyone else in Arkansas as Lonoke). These were, if I remember correctly, the night before a big football match against such rivals as Carlisle or Cabot or England High Schools in surrounding towns of our small farming county.

My grandparents lived on 88 acres on Mount Carmel Road just outside Cabot and I spend many fall afternoons wandering through the woods, getting lost in nature, but never far from home. My childhood memories are not unlike the memories of many other folks who grew up in Farmland U.S.A.  The crops might not all be the same: our farmers grew soybeans, rice and cotton and our town claimed the largest minnow farm in the world (can you imagine?). I also joked that Arkansas had another crop that most people didn't know about. We grew the biggest cotton-mouthed moccasin snakes known to man. I swear they must have been given steroids. I've seen my sister chase them around on her riding lawnmower, but that's a story for another day, which will give everyone a new opinion of the demure Southern woman.

One of the things I always gravitate to in autumn is apples. Here in Colorado we are blessed with lots of orchards, many of them close by. This autumn I have spent many hours canning apples. I've made such delectable goodies as apple butter and applesauce. And then there's apple bread, apple pie, stewed apples, chopped apples in salad. (I'm beginning to sound a little like Bubba Gump, so I'll stop now.)

I will reiterate how much I love autumn. I wait all year for that small window of time when the leaves reach their peak in anticipation of the first snowfall...which sometimes comes at about the same time in our neck of the woods.
Hopefully, you can dip into your memory bank and make a withdrawal of your favorite childhood (or adult) memories. Time has a way of slipping from our fingers...don't let the memories go with them.

Happy Autumn, All!

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