The crunch of golden leaves under my feet and the sweater-temp mornings join to carry me to my childhood and the memories of those fall days. The county schools followed a fall break schedule that lasted several weeks – not for vacations or camps but for extra hands to help with harvesting.
In those days, cotton patches quilted the landscape so large numbers of farmers were concerned with getting their crops and livelihood harvested. Young and old were mobilized and handed a cotton sack to fit their size. The object: Fill it up with cotton, weigh it, empty it into the wagon and fill it again.
My days of pulling a cotton sack down a “thirty-mile” row were few but memorable. In fact, so memorable I don’t relish thinking about the monotony of pulling the cotton from each stalk of spiney, sharp holders or the harsh contrast of frosty mornings and mid-day scorchers. Nothing was pleasant about the cotton patch to me, but not everyday was destined to be spent “by the sweat of the brow.”
There were those wonderful fall days that my sister and I spent in the playhouse. The summer mosquitoes and intense heat had migrated elsewhere and left us with leaf-carpeted flooring and temperatures that made our open-air home a palace.
I smile to myself when I think how our youngest grandchildren would respond if given some empty cans, a few boards and bricks and two tarnished spoons. I feel sorry for them that they’ll never understand the delight of getting empty spice tins and salt boxes for a playhouse kitchen shelf.
The blissful fall days in our playhouse always came to a close, and the routine of “book” education resumed. On one of those fall days, my sister and I walked away from our playhouse and never returned. It wasn’t scheduled, even planned, but that part of our childhood was over forever. The next fall found us pursuing other interests.
There’s a “no-returning” day ahead for all of us – a last day to walk out of the office – a last day to get ready for bed – a last day to walk to the mailbox – a last day to spend with family – a last day to eat the evening meal.
That’s why preparation must be made for last days. Mortality stalks us all.