Les Alyscamps, Falling Autumn Leaves, Vincent van Gogh, 1888 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
“The falling leaves drift by the window
The autumn leaves of red and gold…”
The changing seasons may hold special memories for some. Walking outside into a particular type of weather may evoke a particular moment. It may unlock a time from your memory vault, either good or bad, that you can associate with the weather, the season, or maybe just a certain type of day. Like the autumn leaves, visions of your life may fall all around you.
When the weather changes from summer to fall, the most predominant image to me is that of football. No, I am not talking about sitting in front of a television on Saturday or Sunday to watch college of professional football. I am talking about the in the park, touch football sort of memories I accrued over many years in Revere Park with many different friends as teammates and opponents. Whatever hard feelings there may have been over certain games or with opposing players have now blown away like leaves being blown down the street by a fierce October wind. Only good images remain. I would be a liar if I denied that this time of year makes me yearn for an autumn that will never be repeated. Since I can not go back to those days, I can only carry the memories forward into the winter of life. Fortunately, they are good memories.
Football was always a favorite with me so there are other memories besides the “weekend warrior” kind. There are the years as a football official for leagues of boys playing in that same park. Although I enjoyed working other sports as well, nothing compared to running out onto the field, with college fight songs blasting over the park speakers, as we yelled at the youngsters to line up for the opening kick-off. We worked these games in every type of weather, warm and windy days as well as cool and crisp afternoons. We not only endured driving rains but even some late fall snows that coated the fields and reminded us that winter was lurking around some corner that we were about to turn.
Of course, there was plenty of time spent watching football on televisions with the giant 19 inch screen. I fell most in love with the professional game after reading the best seller by Green Bay Packer lineman Jerry Kramer. Instant Replay made famous some Packer linemen and their opponents on the line of scrimmage. Paper Lion by George Plimpton also was a great read, particularly for the amateur player, not quite good enough to play the pro game. A couple other football books written in the same generation of players helped to capture a certain mystique about the game. I doubt there have been any better books written about pro football since. That these memories of certain books go with a particular season are an amazing thing to me. Indeed I associate other books with other seasons as well.
“I see your lips, the summer kisses
The sun-burned hands I used to hold…”
Summer could last forever for me now. Since I can not improve on the fall memories that I pray will never fall away, I would then wish for t-shirt and shorts weather to stick around. While summer is always filled with a certain sort of contentment, fall is filled with nostalgia for a by-gone era. I can stand in the middle of the park and remember what was, or travel to the arboretum to immerse myself in colored leaves, but I can not turn back any clocks. That is the reminder that autumn ushers in with its cooler nights and shorter days.
“Since you went away the days grow long
And soon I’ll hear old winter’s song…”
If you live in the midwest part of the USA, you know that winter will come storming in all too soon. Even if you like the snow of a Christmas morning, you never like the hours spent shovelling your walkways or digging out your automobile. If you live in the “Windy City,” Chicago that is, then you absolutely know how a winter wind can “go right through you,” as many say here. The meanness of old man winter is only welcomed by a scant few. The rest of us understand so well that autumn points to the brutally mean side of Mother Nature. When you reach the autumn of your own years, winter can not be made welcome, because you know that there is no spring to follow. If you have not already stopped to smell the roses, or looked at the explosion of fall colors, then you have missed what nature and life itself has to offer.
“…but I miss you most of all my darling
When autumn leaves start to fall.”
There is a season for reminiscence and I guess that it is autumn. If a cool fall afternoon can drive me to my computer to toss off some random thoughts, then I suppose the time is now. For the people and times past that remain in my heart, I must declare that I miss you most of all, when autumn leaves start to fall.
– “Les feuilles mortes” music by Joseph Kosma and lyrics by poet Jacques Prévert, english lyrics by Johnny Mercer.