As I drink my evening coffee and gaze out the window, there’s a definite hint of fall creeping in. Longer shadows and earlier, cooler nights are already here. Autumn was always a favorite in my house as I was growing up. Laughing and playing in piled-up leaves; making displays out of pumpkins; corn shocks. Perhaps, though, the thing foremost in my mind this evening is the memories my Mom shared with me over the years of growing up as a little girl and experiencing autumn in nearby Upland. Growing up in the late 1940s and 1950s was a much simpler era than that in which we now find ourselves. She loved her roots so much that she often spoke of them with reference and love.
Her favorite memories to share always started with telling of her and her sister Ruth playing house in the woods. They would find a tree stump for a table, small pieces of wood for chairs, and moss as a makeshift tablecloth. Acorns and other forest trinkets served as the food, while big leaves were the dishes. Mom spoke of the treasures with as much pride as if they had been the finest china the world had to offer. You see, to her and Ruth, they were better. They were autumn treasures.
Next in line for my Mom’s favorite fall memories was sneaking out of school to explore the woods. She and Ruth found a cave that they explored for what seemed like hours. They swung on grape vines from one side of the hill to the other. Finally, they crept back to school and took their seats. If the teacher noticed their absence, nothing was ever said. Mom told me that now she wondered how they survived without the vines breaking or getting lost, but when it was happening, it was the time of their lives.
Last but not least, my Mom would always recall the fall Ruth decided she had to ride the mule Jack. Now ole Jack had a mind of his own, and when Ruth sat down, Jack took off into the woods, braying and running fast as he could. Naturally, this scared Ruth, and she commenced crying and screaming. Mom said their Dad took off after Jack and finally caught him. Needless to say, he wasn’t too happy with Jack. Ruth never did ask for a ride on the ole mule ever again.
What I wouldn’t give to glance back in time and see only a moment of these events as they happened. While that isn’t possible, at least the stories live on to entertain us into the next generation. I hope you are proud of that, Momma.