I write this sitting at my kitchen table with our patio door open and a very cool, crisp fall-like breeze is drifting in. I also have on several layers including a big sweatshirt and am wondering how I will survive winter ;)
Fall is my favorite season and I always remember/miss my Dad more as soon as the temperatures drop, the leaves start to change and the geese head south. He loved fall too. He enjoyed raking leaves. Probably only one of a select few who do. He'd rather have spent a Sunday afternoon in the yard than watching the Packer game (although he did turn his garage radio on to listen sometimes)!
Our yard was about one acre and included the riverbank and several huge pine and oak trees. Leaves, needles and pinecones were aplenty. Living in a small town in the "town" not the city we didn't really have a place to "dump" leaves and while we did burn quite a bit, the main disposal method went something like this... giant blue tarps would be laid out on the freshly raked grass, my sister and I would stand on the corners to avoid it blowing away in the fall breeze and then the leaf piles would be raked or blown on to it. Dad would kind of burrito it closed (or more like a Crunchwrap all folded into the center) and pull it across our yard and then the street to the uninhabited woods. We had the luxury of no across-the-street neighbors, but just the great North woods. The whole process was the repeated about 5,475 times all the way through November (see what I did there?!) and my Dad couldn't have been happier.
The other all time favorite past time in the fall was fishing. Most people fish in the summer. Not my Dad. He'd go out in May when it was just warming up and then in September, October and even November (BRRRRR!). Through most of my school career, he worked the 6AM to about 3PM shift at the paper and then would sneak in an hour of fishing (if the leaves were raked) before welcoming us off the school bus and recounting his successes (or lack there of). Then he'd fire up the grill and get dinner going. Once we hit high school and ran cross country in the fall, he'd travel to our after school meets (sometimes up to 2 hours one way) or come and pick us up after practices. When I went to college his shift changed to every other night (4PM to 11PM) and that would leave late morning open after his coffee and cereal (always mixed kinds).
I will always remember coming home from College during Fall Break. I went to Ripon College and unlike the UW system, we were private and had a few perks like a glorious week off in the middle of October. Time to catch our breath, get some belly-hug home cooking and enjoy the weather before winter set in. I would even pick up shifts at my summer jobs too. My mom would take me shopping to restock my dorm and closet and Dad would take me fishing. Just the two of us on the absolutely quiet and still river. No one is out in the middle of the week in October. I'd go through all my classes and what projects I was working on, which professors I liked and fill him in on my campus job, the Phonathon. He loved hearing about my conversation with wealthy alumni and always wanted to know how I was ranking amongst fellow callers (there were prizes for those of us who raised the most $ in the semester and yours truly took home that trophy SEVERAL times). We would chat about our favorite TV shows; 24 with Kiefer Sutherland (what kind of obscure torture happened on last week's episode?!) and Survivor (of course had to predict who would win or who would be most likely to be medically evacuated or quit).
Of equal enjoyment to fishing in the fall was nightly walks/bike rides on Riverbend Drive. The colder and darker the better for my Dad. He'd walk throughout winter also but obviously enjoyed fall walks the best. He would ride his bike too until the day it first snowed. He loved stopping and shining his flashlight into the woods to see if any eyes would be looking back at him - eek! I was with him once when we saw a fox. So eerie but so cool. He delighted in pointing out the landscaping changes that neighbors had made or the Halloween decorations he enjoyed most (or the ones he thought were hokey). He definitely had the nosey neighbor tendency LOL.
Peshtigo as a small town also enjoys fall it seems as the yearly festival is always the end of September: Historical Days. There was nothing better than walking from our elementary school to the Badger Park for a little field trip to see all of the teepees set up and smell the delicious fry bread baking on the campfires. Sure there was some education/history thrown in too. And some ax throwing! Later in high school, college and even now I like to go back for the 5k they hold during the festival, the Fire Tower run. It actually goes right past my childhood home which is fun. And it brings back such nostalgia of countless cross country practice runs on those same roads. The downside...it's always freezing!! Lastly, the Peshtigo Fire anniversary is celebrated in October and again, what better time than that for fall foliage and brisk temps. One of these trips I WILL get Kyle and kiddos to the little Fire Museum (again, great nostalgia of field trips there and even an stop at the DQ on the way back to school LOL).
Finally, the view from our dock is just the absolute best in the fall. I will leave you with that!!