Autumn Leaves

Coming from New England, the autumn has always been my favorite season. I love the sound of crunching leaves under my feet and the memory of flopping into high piles of dried leaves. I love to crunch crisp apples. My job was to pick up all the dropped apples before the rakes got near the apple tree. I like enough of a chill so that my clothes are layered with pockets.

I recall how the coins and bottle caps and unusual rocks created an interesting display when I would empty my pockets. Coming into a warm house with the scent of hot, mulled cider made it hard not to feel content. Another reason for my favorite season is Halloween with its endless opportunity for creativity amidst the foliage splotches of red, and yellow and orange. Halloween was always so much more than a pillow case heavy with candy.

When I was growing up, I would join the neighborhood kids in stuffing old clothes with leaves to create headless creatures just waiting for pumpkin heads. We were delighted; most adults, who no longer had to rake so many leaves, were delighted. In the mill town where I grew up, the adults had a blast in decorating yards with ghoulish gags and sniping grave markers. (It was better than Christmas lights by a long shot.)

Nowadays in autumn, carving a jack-o’lantern and singing about “The Ghost of John” still ignites sparks of Halloweens past. I like to wander around the Berkshires in Massachusetts or the Green Mountains in Vermont, just because those seem to be the best bets to avoid irritating traffic.

I walk the trails of crunchy leaves. I stop at local restaurants, where people are already dabbling to decide on this year’s costume; I order any specialty drink with mulled cider. I appreciate the yard decorations, cognizant of the wonder they would have conjured for me when I was young.

I wander aimlessly amongst the piles of pumpkins on sale by the side of the road, and I contemplate how people mock Linus for his faith in the Great Pumpkin. I check out the local ghost tours and somehow feel I’ve become more jaded than I had planned. I crunch on an apple to stay awake while driving.  

Some years ago, on a jaunt to the Berkshires, this was hanging on the wall at the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art (MASS MoCA). I see all sorts of costume and decoration ideas there. It’s Halloween, a time when you can be all that you can be!

Ship of Fools by Aaron Johnson

“Ship of Fools” by Aaron Johnson

end of a season

end of a season


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