Several weeks ago we took a trip to Boulder to visit my husband’s brother for a few days. As we drove along, I noticed quite a few cottonwood trees whose leaves were turning yellow.
On a day trip to Butte, I saw a few places in the mountains where a lone bright yellow cottonwood stood alone amidst the dark green pine trees. Seeing them brought back memories of the woods where I grew up.
Hillsides would be covered in trees robed in gold, green, brown, tan, rust and crimson. The picture they created was impossible to duplicate.
With the turning of the leaves, it was also time to harvest black walnuts. On more than one occasion, my fingers were stained brown from hulling the nuts from their shells. But it was all worth it when, at Thanksgiving, Christmas and Easter, my mother made a traditional Croatian pastry with the nuts.
Fall also brought squirrel hunting season. My father, brother and I would take to the woods on a Saturday to hunt squirrels. We’d take along sandwiches made with homemade bread and homemade chocolate chip cookies for our noon break.
By the end of the day we’d return home with a half dozen squirrels. Mom would fry up a couple of them. The rest she’d put in the freezer to use for stew later on.
Early fall was also good for fishing. Quite a few times we feasted on fresh caught catfish. I especially enjoyed having fresh fish along with bread and butter for breakfast.
The Fall season also heralded the time for digging up the potatoes we’d planted, gathering in the last of the onions, tomatoes and peppers. It was also time to harvest the pears and wrap them individually in newspaper, then store them in the basement to ripen.
At times I can still recall the tantalizing smells of Mom canning the last of the tomatoes, carrots, green beans and sweet peas. Mixed in with it all was the odor of the brine Grandpa made to pour over the heads of cabbage we’d put into a big wooden barrel.
Every season brings with it its own sights and sounds and smells that return in our memories, and on a bright Fall day, those memories return to bring us a smile and once again remind us of all we have to be thankful for.