Today was a true Indian Summer day… we had Squaw Winter these past ten days or so, which makes Indian Summer official, according to my mother.
My husband and I were painting trim boards for the outside of the house this afternoon. It got breezy at some point, so that the bright autumn leaves were drifting out of the tall trees across the street. It reminded me of the “homemade fun” that my siblings and I used to have in autumn, when we would go out and see how many leaves we could catch as they drifted down from the tall oak, maple, and beech trees around our farmette. We also used to rake together huge piles of leaves until they were taller than our heads, and wide enough to bury four of us in the pile at once. The October when I was in first grade, I remember playing in the leaves when the neighbors came with the news that the President had been shot. I knew by the animated way the adults were talking that the President was very important, but I didn’t understand who he was, so I asked my older brother, and he said the President was the boss of our country. I wasn’t sure what a country was, but I didn’t want my brother to make fun of me, so I didn’t ask.
The day of President Kennedy’s funeral, my parents allowed us to go to the neighbors (who were not Amish) to watch their television. I remember the same sad, dark feeling at both the funeral on television and Amish funerals I had attended when I watched the black carriage carrying the coffin and saw the President’s children and their mother as they walked behind the carriage. It was my first realization that “high” or “English” people died too, and that they were just as sad at funerals as the Amish.
Playing in the leaves is a tradition that I kept when my boys were growing up. I remember when Paul was two years old, he wanted to bury me with leaves, so I laid down in the leaves, and he walked through the leaves, ggsssh, ggsssh, ggsssh, and then I heard him scoop up as many leaves as possible with his little hands. Then he’d walk back towards me — ggsssh, ggsssh, ggsssh and whhhisshhh, he’d drop them on my face. In between showers of leaves, I looked up at the cotton clouds through the kaleidoscope of red, gold, and orange and I smelled the earthy, nutty smell of the leaves, and I became five years old again.