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"The Season Between" by Jake Frost (CatholicMom.com) Jean-Pol GRANDMONT [CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons[/caption]On a wet and misty autumn morning I was walking with my kids, gazing at fall’s beauty and pointing out changing leaves when my five-year-old daughter said: “It’s like the colors are dripping down!” It was a very apt description that captured the moment perfectly. Our whole family loves fall! When I was a kid my mom would have each of us pick out one tree to be “our tree” that we would watch through the autumn to see how the leaves changed. Each day we would be sure to check our tree to track the autumnal metamorphosis. It would still be green when we started, and then one exciting day the first bright splashes of color would appear. From there it wasn’t long before the colors spread and deepened as autumn’s glory swept over the whole tree, until finally it was all aflame with oranges and reds shimmering as the leaves danced in the cold autumn winds. And then, just as suddenly, one day the branches would all be bare against the blue sky and you knew it wouldn’t be long before snow limned each twisting limb and twig. That’s the thing about autumn’s magic: It’s wonderful, and fleeting. Another of my favorites from childhood autumns was The Leaf Mountain. We had huge maples in our yard and a steep bank that made a perfect launching pad for jumping into a huge mound of leaves heaped up down below. The whole family would head out early on a crisp autumn morning to rake up all the leaves and gather them together at the bottom of the bank, dumping bags of leaves off it’s brim to swirl in the wind as they floated down. Bag by bag the giant mountain of leaves would grow until finally the rest of the yard was clear and all the leaves had been piled up in that one place. Then it was time to commence the jumping! We’d spend the rest of the afternoon running off the bank and jumping into the leaf pile. Autumn leaves smell so good. And the smell of burning leaves, from back in the days when it was still environmentally acceptable to burn them, was just as wonderful. When us kids were finally all jumped-out it was time to help Dad burn down the pile. By then the sky was growing dusky in the gloaming of evening, the air was chilly, and the burning leaves crackled and glowed red as we tended the burn pile and fed in leaves. Those were quiet times spent as the dark of evening grew deeper, with Dad sharing stories or poems as the stars began to show in the sky. I still love the smell of burning leaves. And to cap off a wonderful autumn day spent out amid the golds and reds and the calls of wild geese flying overhead in formation, we would head in to a log in the fireplace and cinnamon rolls and apple cider and stories read aloud as we lay on the carpet in front of the fire. No wonder I love autumn so much! Plus there are the leaves to kick through walking down the sidewalk, and their satisfying crunch underfoot; there’s the cornflower blue of the sky, the brisk winds, caramel apples, the first frost, pumpkins and whispery dry corn husks, and the incredible colors of the leaves. It’s a wonderful Season Between. It comes just after the back-to-school time, with all its business and excitement, and right before the rush of the winter holidays. We’re finally settled into a routine, but don’t yet have the press of all that is about to come. It’s a short season, and a quiet one, so it’s easy for it to slip away before you fully realize it’s here. To try and be sure we enjoy it and relish it all we can while it is here, I now pick trees to watch with my kids, as my mom used to do with me and my siblings, and we gather colorful leaves we find on our walks and place them in a basket on our table as a centerpiece, changing them out every day or so. We’ll make some sugar cookies cut out in the shape of leaves with food coloring to make them red and gold. We have caramel apples every year, and make an annual trip to the apple orchard or a pumpkin patch, and I’ll look for some Maize corn to augment our leaves on the table. We’ll rake and have fires with cinnamon rolls and apple cider. But not too much. Part of the charm of autumn is the slower pace of The Season Between, with it’s a chance to slow down and appreciate a fleeting moment of beauty before it whisks away like a swirl of leaves in a cold wind that will soon bring snow. Happy Autumn, everyone!
Copyright 2019 Jake Frost