I’ve never been one to claim autumn as my favorite season. I’ve always picked summer – holding on to the fuzzy feelings brought on by the last days of school, county fairs, unstructured days, and evenings filled with neighborhood games of “home free all” played across back yards.
I haven’t had a summer like that in over 40 years, but it remains my ideal. Autumn, winter and spring haven’t even been close seconds.
A few weeks ago I drove by a university playing field and saw a football game in progress, complete with pigskin, helmets, shoulder pads. and what sounded like a marching band. And, just like that, I found myself back in the days when I was on the sidelines cheering, “First and ten, do it again.”
Or out on the field, at band practice, preparing for the half time show. The days had shortened and practices were held in the early evenings under field lights. The air was crisp, requiring a jacket or a sweatshirt, or sometimes the letter jacket of one of players. Homecoming, Halloween and Fall Festivals were on the horizon, promising bonfires and cider and popcorn balls.
Front yards were filled with leaf houses made by younger kids. Curbs were filled with still smoldering leaves raked by the older ones, supervised by dads. Back porches held bushel baskets of apples, freshly picked.
I’m not sure why those memories have taken a back seat to the ones of summer. Perhaps because the summers of youth are not easily duplicated as a working adult. While the signs of a Midwest fall – the distinct smell and colors, the shortened days, the sudden appearance of a few days of Indian summer – are things you still experience, even if it’s from your car while driving to and from work.
Unless, of course, you’re living in Mexico, at a time and place as close to endless summer as you’ll ever get. Where mums don’t show up like clockwork on front porches in September and leaf blowers aren’t the sound you hear on Saturday mornings.
Where you drive by a football game and are suddenly nostalgic for a season that was never your favorite, but has become one in its absence.
My tickets are in the works. I’m pretty sure that two weeks of raking leaves will subdue the yearning.