Autumn Nostalgia


Fall has always been my favorite time of the year.  There's something so very marvelous about it:  the cool, crisp weather; the leaves that burst into flames of orange and red on the trees and then swirl down and crackle under foot; the smell of woodsmoke, apples and cinnamon; the feeling that something magical could happen at any moment.

In particular, the fall reminds me of my father.  When I was just a toddler, I would "help" my dad rake up the leaves in the yard.  This, of course, mostly meant that I would patter over to the leaves that he collected in piles and fall into them, turning them back into a giant mess.  Eventually, he would manage to get them all in the wheel barrow, and he would scoop me up and plop me on top of the pile and push me and the leaves up to the field behind our little suburban house.  "Forgetting" that I was in with the wheel barrow, he would dump the foliage and I all out together, in one giant squealing, giggling heap.  Once he got over his feigned-embarrassment, he'd put me back in the empty barrow and run me down the hill and all over the yard.  I looked forward to this all year.

When I got a little older, the fall meant taking on projects together: stuffing the perfect scarecrow, picking apples that my mom would bake into a pie, carving pumpkins with wickedly mischievous smiles, dreaming up and creating Halloween costumes (the very best are created, not bought).  I remember participating in the town Halloween parade year after year when I was young.  My dad walked right along beside me - singing Big Bopper tunes to me when I dressed as a 50s skating waitress; carrying the foil-covered cookbook we made for my statue of liberty costume when it got too heavy; dancing silly dances next to me when I was a wind-up ballerina.
It seems like almost every fall memory involves him.  

I'm older now, and living across the continent from my family.  Fall in Los Angeles is nothing like fall in Pennsylvania.  There are no farm-dotted fields, or candy colored trees.  The light here doesn't take on the same soft, reflective slant that it does in the northeast.  The weather here remains in the 80s and 90s as far as even November sometimes.  (That is, I confess, a lovely fact come February, but in the middle of October, something about it seems wrong.) There will come a time, I'm sure, when we will pack up our apartment and head back to the east coast.  I want my kids to grow up getting wheel barrow rides and the very best ideas in Halloween costuming from my dad.  I want them to know the spectacular season that I've fallen in love with (and, currently, miss terribly). It may not be this month or even this year, but I cannot wait for that time. The perpetually green (or, more accurately, brown) city is, occasionally heart breaking.  Especially in the fall.

And yet, even here in LA, I sometimes catch the smell of wood smoke on the breeze, or hear the rustling of leaves in a park, or glimpse the smile of a daddy toting his giggling punkin' around, and I am reminded that every season - every celebration, every holiday - is special, not for the moments that make it up, but for the people who make the moments.  I love you dad. 

My first and always love - my dad.

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