And so . . . it’s fall. This used to mean cooler temperatures at last. As of right now, I’m not noticing much of a break from the ‘dog days of summer’. The usual fall events have begun like school and Friday night football. Rumors of leaves changing color — and eventually falling — have been heard, although it’s rumored to be a short-lived period this year. The ‘crickets’ are chirping nightly. Pumpkin everything is everywhere. Yes, fall is here. Most of these events come with a mixed bag of emotions. See if you agree.
School has begun in earnest. I heard you parents cheering as the school buses and cars pulled away with your ‘dimpled darlings’ on board, mixed with a few tears of those of your sending your child off for their first day of kindergarten — or college. But remember, that day was preceded by all the crowds at every store you went to shopping for every imaginable type of school supply. Back to school is still worth it, though.
Football games are a staple of fall whatever your level of interest — from pee wee to pros. From tenth grade until I graduated from college, football season meant band practice. That practice took many forms and many hours. My high school would prepare two or three shows per season, which meant a lot of music to be memorized and spots on the field to be learned. By college, we did a new show every week. No more memorizing music, but those field routines were still a challenge. Throw in parades and fall was a busy time any way you looked at it.
Where I attended college hosted a yearly ‘Autumn Leaf Festival’ in conjunction with homecoming — and hopefully some autumn leaves. So, not only was the small town busy with alumni coming back for homecoming it was also full of people coming to view the hopefully colorful autumn leaves and participate in the community activities. Of course, there were so many visitors, the actual students didn’t have much room to participate in said activities. The worst I remember it being was when the town got a new McDonald’s. The band director somehow managed to get Ronald McDonald to come to town for our halftime show, as well as Colonel Sanders — so as to not show favoritism. The Colonel even directed part of our halftime show. So we had a parade, homecoming, tourists, football, and ‘celebrities’. Oy vey!
My parents, not ones to miss a slam-bang good time, would tow the camper to a nearby campground for the weekend of activities. They would pass on the football game and downtown activities and opt instead for a campfire and treats that would last well into the night following the game.
As I sit at home in the evenings I can hear the locusts chirping each night as the sun goes down. I remember that sound as the ‘death knell’ to summer vacation. We’d sit on the glider on my grandma’s front porch on a cool, dark summer evening and watch the traffic drive by and listen to the chirping. We didn’t talk much, we just glided and listened. To this day I remember sitting on that glider with Grandma and knowing school was right around the corner. It’s a comforting sound.
Fall. It means different things to everyone so sit back and consider what this change in seasons brings to mind.
Sue Sampson is a longtime columnist for the Parkersburg News and Sentinel.