My son and I always enjoyed the autumn season. Yes, when we lived in the cold zone, we knew that winter’s winds and snows were on the way. But, yet, we took time to enjoy the beautiful array of colors that nature gave us as a final salute to the growing season.
Todd and I raked leaves in the autumn. I had purchased a home in a town on the Mississippi River bluffs; the home had been built in the 1860s and I am sure some of the trees were well over 50 years old. The leaves would fall and we would rake. We made a game of it. Sometimes his best friend, Allen, would come over and help. The boys would jump into the piles and laugh with delight. We’d create a big pile and rake it to the concrete so that it could be burned. I can still see Todd laughing and dancing around that fire. His pure childhood joy was contagious.
Todd and I loved to look at the changing leaves along the bluffs of the river. We would drive on weekends and find the best view. Then we’d park and marvel at nature’s wonder. The big bluffs, the turning leaves, the eagles soaring above us. Ducks flying south….even the occasional group of geese overhead…honking, honking as they journeyed to a warmer climate.
The light is different in the autumn…it’s diffused somehow. It’s different than the light in any other season. Autumn sun was our favorite light. It seemed less harsh, more forgiving, gentler in a strange sort of way. That was another time and another place.
Now in the autumn I remember all the special times I shared with my child. Looking at leaves, collecting leaves, raking leaves……we did this together, just the two of us. “Mom, when are we going to go look at leaves?” Todd would ask. That was my cue to load up some soft drinks and sandwiches and head out on the first sunny Saturday. We’d repeat this ritual until the leaves had all fallen and it was time to rake.
When we moved to the Houston area, Todd was 12, and we talked about the seasons. He told me about his great memories of leaves and drives and time together. He said he would miss autumn with me. That made me feel good. These were memories that we shared, of a time when it was just Todd and me for those special moments. Looking back, I am so glad that I spent the time to make memories. I thought I was making memories for my child, but in fact, I was making memories for us both. And now those memories are my memories…..good memories….memories that I will cherish always.
Here it is autumn again. Soon Todd will be gone five years. The memories are flooding back: the first day of each school each year, the changes as he grew to become a man. High school, college, graduate school….all began in the autumn. Autumn marks the beginning of many good memories for me. I listen as the school bus stops in front of our house to pick up today’s children. Once in a while I go to the door and watch them load up, chatting with each other as they take their seats. I think of my 12-year-old son, getting on that bus in front of our home for the first time: the first day of school in Houston. And for a moment, just a fleeting moment, I think I can see him sitting at a window seat, waving at me. Waving goodbye.
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