I have fond memories from childhood of October days. The sun is usually warm, the leaves are colorful and falling, the summer bugs are no more and the cold days of winter have yet to begin. The harvest is wrapping up and the deep freeze is full of frozen goodies from the summer garden. The pantry is brimming with home canned jars of pickles and beets and other various goodies from the garden. The zucchini plant has finally stopped producing and the Hubbard squash are in the cellar along with bushels of apples and potatoes. Oktoberfest is going on all over Germany and within German communities around the world. Halloween is coming the last day of October and many memories of days gone by and a simpler time of children and trick-or-treat is recalled. Apple cider stirred with cinnamon sticks ward off the chill of night as does a good homemade hot chocolate served with the best home-grown popcorn popped to perfection in Mom’s cast iron pan. Those are my memories of October.
Can’t you just smell the wonderful fall odors? The beautiful smells of the last of the hearty flowers that have been shielded by the flirting frost, the smell of fresh hay bales stacked next to Uncle Vern’s barn for winter feed. The pumpkins are nearly ready as the vines die down and we look for the one that is just right to take home to make a jack-o-lantern or use in our fall decor or put into the cold cellar for future pumpkin pies. Don’t you see them there next to the bushels of apples and potatoes, just left of the Hubbard squash? I see them, all waiting for future usage in my Great-Grandma’s kitchen.
Alas, I only have memories of such times. All the home places are gone as are the people who worked the land and cared for it for a little while. Now days I don’t have a garden to get fresh produce from, rather I buy it all from a store. Uncle Charles’s bees where we always could look forward to good tasting honey belong to someone else or are no more. Grandma’s kitchen exists only in my memories as do Uncle Vern’s hay bales and barn and Great-Grandma’s cold storage cellar.
You see, I am in the October of my life, just a little past my prime but not yet with one foot in the grave. I know my memories are much different from my children’s memories. They never got to see Great-Grandma’s cold storage cellar with the musty stench and spider webs and fresh smelling potatoes and apples. They never got to climb all over Uncle Vern’s hay bales or play in the loft of his big red barn. They never got to help can and freeze the plunder of summer’s goodness from the garden. They have different memories of growing up than I do. And that’s okay too; it is just a reminder to me of what season of my life I am living.
I love autumn more than any other season I think. It is the gatherer in me I suppose, but to me there is no greater feeling than to know that I have lain in my store of foods for the winter. That is what the Fall Harvest is all about, why Oktoberfest is celebrated by so many German Folk, to celebrate the end of the harvest. It is why Halloween was such a fun time while growing up, to get to go to town dressed up like some favorite character and bring in the goodies.
I can remember fondly some of the houses we went to as children to trick-or-treat. We always went in a group, the bigger the better and we never worried about someone harming us. Some of the homes were friendly looking and we would run up to the front door and yell “Trick-or Treat” in unison as someone opened the door. One of the older ladies, Mrs. Morse, was a widow. She had been a school teacher and she refused to buy any treats to give out. Instead she made caramel apples, popcorn balls, and cookies. We all loved to go to her home for treats. She just happened to live across from the park so we could stop there and eat our caramel apples before moving on to the next home.
One of the scariest homes was occupied by bachelor brothers. They gave out pennies rather than candy and they had some interesting displays of old calendars that showed half-naked women that the boys seemed to love but we girls thought very inappropriate. I don’t think we girls would have gone there without the boys urging us, still though; it was good to get the penny. Mostly, though, from other houses we got candy bars and we all loved to get as much candy as we could. Our pillow cases were usually full by the time we walked all over town and back home again. Such good memories.
I remember how creative we were in making our costumes for Halloween. No one purchased such a thing as a costume and Mom’s did not make them either. As children we took great pride in making our own costumes. Sometimes we had a little supervision from our Mom’s but for the most part we loved to be creative and make our own. One year I was a ghost, so was my brother and our next door neighbor. Rather than cutting holes in the bed sheets that usually came off our bed, we made masks from grocery bags, the brown paper kind. Another time I dressed up like a Gypsy Fortune Teller and even had a crystal ball, which became annoying after a few homes so I put it in the bottom of my bag for candy. Another time I dressed like an old lady, put on my Mom’s old bra and stuffed it full of tissues to fill out the bust part of my dress. I put flour in my hair to make it look like I was going gray. I put bright red lipstick on like all the women wore in those days and I wore high heels, which slowed me down too much so after going a few blocks I ran home and put my tennis shoes back on. Oh what fun memories of Halloween!
Today, I often wonder what memories my son will have of Halloween or for that matter of the blessings in each season. His favorite season is winter because he loves to build snow forts and snow people and play in the snow. Fortunately for me he also loves to shovel snow! I hope that lasts a long time. But back to autumn, I have to think very creatively to find things for him to enjoy, to build him some good memories of Fall. We don’t live on a farm or know anyone well enough to visit that does. We don’t have a garden because we live in town and my allergies don’t allow gardening. In this day and age it isn’t safe to let children walk from house to house and street to street to go trick-or-treating so we will have to find something else to do. We will have to depend upon our community for some fun activities to attend I guess.
As I am living in the autumn of my life, I think that the world has gone a little crazy, and I really do wish my children could have had the wonderful experiences that I had as a child. Our world has their priorities all mixed up I think. We value the wrong things. Rather than valuing the reality stars latest brush with indecency wouldn’t it be nice if we valued family? Instead of valuing money and possessions, wouldn’t it be great if we valued honesty and integrity? Instead of valuing technology, wouldn’t we be better off if we simply spoke to each other and got to know each other better? I mean, when I think of it, I would rather see a beautiful October harvest moon in person than I would on the computer, wouldn’t you?
Until next time……Katherine