The people's voice of reason

Tears & Laughter - For the Love of Autumn

This week’s cooler air has been refreshing after a long Alabama summer…a summer that is likely not through. These first dips in temps are just teases.

We know this.

We know Southern summers linger late into October some years. Summer often won’t leave until ushered out by an early frost or chased away by the chilling ghosts of Halloween.

By September’s end, most everybody is ready for a change of pace. College football is in full swing, days are becoming noticeably shorter, and the kudzu along the roadsides are beginning to show signs of surrender.

Afternoons have taken on the golden bronze hue of autumn sunsets. Falling leaves, not yet pooling in the yard, are beginning to dot the patio.

If you close your eyes you can almost tell what month it is by the sound. You can hear the change, if you listen past the crows. There is a crispness lush leaves of summer do not have. It is a rustle that will beckon the colors of fall.

It is pumpkin season. And soon the initial subtle signs of an approaching Christmas will follow. But not before nature puts on its annual show of beauty so great that memory cannot retain it from one year to the next.

The beauty of autumn cannot not be justly described in words. Only when the colors splash across a windshield, only when you walk within them and look up are they most accurately experienced.

Childhood has changed with the ambitions of the community I suppose, but during my stint at Thomasville Elementary School there were various field trips that were designed to equip students with awareness that could possibly stay with them for a lifetime. Everybody got to go to the state capitol…to get a picture with the governor and to inspire anybody in the bunch that may have had any political motivations.

Then they also made it a point to bus us to the Shakespeare Festival in an attempt to expose us to what they thought was a little culture, and then, to keep it real and closer to home, every fall they took us to see cane syrup being made.

Everybody was excited anytime we did anything out from an ordinary day in a classroom, but we particularly looked forward to syrup making day. At first glance off the bus, it looked like this was the place where everyone had been while we were in school. A big slice of the town was already there helping. The steam from the evaporator welcomed us.

There were stalks of sugar cane being put through a grinder and juice filling buckets. There was a fire being stoked that fueled the evaporating. It was a slow process. There was constant stirring and watching.

Women busied themselves preparing nearby long tables with lunch, talking together the whole time. The tables were covered with white table cloths and topped with favorite dishes, best recipes, and vegetables from late summer gardens.

I guess they were trying to show us a tradition and give us an experience we could remember all of our lives. And they were successful. With the first cool breezes of fall…I go back every year.


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