October days – tawny with sunshine and purple – the odor of burning leaves – how just this little thing awakens memories of childhood days – raking and burning leaves in all the yards in the old neighborhood – the air thick with smoke – it was on Saturday and the children helped.
How we loved the crackle and rustle of the leaves as we scuffed through them – playing games by burrowing into tunnels of leaves piled high – brown, red, yellow – we played we had dresses in all the shades and were grown up ladies – then a cloud appeared and suddenly a few rain-drops – we lifted our little faces, the soft drops pattering down – how fresh the air seemed and what a fragrance – the first fall rain.
All the dry stalks and limbs had to be burned too, with the leaves – we did not have a garbage man then, nor did we know the first thing about a compost pit for fertilizer. I remember my dear old father always had a little vegetable garden – he used to say “all thrifty folks should have a garden” – I can almost see him – so prim and well kept with a row of corn with beans running up on the stalks – a row of turnips – white and sweet – we children used to pull them up and eat them raw – wash them in the ditch nearby – maybe sometimes we didn’t wash them at all – there was a pumpkin vine, several tall sunflowers and castor beans (to keep gophers away) and I remember in October, big purple morning glories ran riot over the picket fence and the dry corn stalks.
There was an odor about this little garden – a real perfume it would be to me today – perhaps it was the mint or pennyroyal or dog fennil that grew along the ditch – or just the damp, woodsy odor of growing things. But whenever I pass by one of these gardens in October and catch the odor I fairly drink it in – and today the odor of burning leaves brings it all back to me – happy, carefree childhood – home – simple and sweet, and those we loved – life was just one happy holiday for us.
Our parents had never heard the word “depression”, nor “income tax” nor the “high cost of living”. To talk of the “new deal” and the WPA’s and the NRA’s and XYZ’s would have made their poor heads swim with bewilderment. But – they did know honesty and sincerity – home and happiness, after all, the best things in life.
I remember the October sunsets from the old home porch – the landscape fairly ablaze with the crimson rays as the sun sank behind the hills – and
“The dewey blue of twilight grew
To purple with a star or two”
And the moon – how big and round and red it used to look – but when high in the sky it flooded the world with a silvery glow. I can remember how we used to make a wish and say a verse for the first full moon – dear me – we wished on the daisies and blew hard on the fluffy dandelion balls and were sure our wish would come true – and maybe it did…