2015-10-14 / Editorial

FALL ABOUT THE SOUTH

Don Lively

Autumn in the Blessed South.

When a young man’s fancy turns to…

Camo.

Tree stands.

Sighting in rifles and sharpening skinning knives.

Middle aged men too.

And old men.

Deer season.

These days I don’t count myself among the hunters and trackers. I have nothing whatsoever against hunting. But Daddy taught me long ago not to kill anything that I didn’t intend to eat, or anything that didn't intend to eat me, and, since I don’t particularly like venison, I gave up deer hunting years ago. Yes, I know that I risk losing my Southern Man credentials with that admission but there you have it.

Still, Fall around these parts, is, in my opinion, the best part of the year.

I like pretty much everything about Fall.

Except pumpkins.

I don't enjoy the unending, constant, in-your-face, annual pushing on the public one of the most useless of all of God’s creations, right up there with the human appendix.

Pumpkins, to my way of thinking, really have only two real purposes.

One, jack-o’-lanterns.

I’m not much for Halloween either but carving pumpkins into jack-o’-lanterns has become somewhat of an art form over the past twenty years. No longer is it enough to just carve a wicked grin, a triangular nose hole and two round eyes, then stick a candle inside to backlight it. These days you might see the perfect image of Michael Jackson.

Or Donald Trump.

Rosie O’Donnell.

Now that’s scary.

When I was a kid and nobody in our neck of the woods grew pumpkins, we’d carve our jacks out of citrons, those distant cousins to the watermelon that are about as worthless as pumpkins. Citrons were a lot harder to hollow out than pumpkins are and they didn’t last nearly as long, pretty much rotting and caving in after a couple of days, but there were always plenty more where they came from.

The only other use for pumpkins that I can see is for “punkin chunkin’.”

A few years back somebody invented an event in which contestants build massive devices for the express purpose of launching a pumpkin as far as possible. It caught on and now there are entire weekend festivals built around the events.

I wonder if a watermelon chunkin’ contest would catch on?

Anyway, for me, no pumpkin lattes please.

Or pumpkin rum.

Pumpkin muffins.

Shrimp and grits and pumpkin.

Lord no.

Please.

Except for dodging all things pumpkin I do love the Fall.

Driving through any part of our county you’ll see large fields of cotton busting wide open with their white fiber bounty.

Cotton may not still be king around here but it’s still part of the monarchy.

Since I was a kid I’ve often gazed at some cotton patch and wondered if the very bolls I saw would eventually become the very same material that made the blue jeans or denim shirts I’ll be wearing.

When my kids were little and I'd take them into the Rockies we'd stop at the candy shops and buy peanut brittle. I had them convinced that the peanuts in the hard candy came straight from their Granddaddy's farm.

Whenever it's my turn to cook Sunday dinner I ponder on the fact that the frozen cobs of corn might have been grown right around these parts.

My mind gets weird, I know.

To some folks Autumn is a depressing time. When things that have been straining all Spring and Summer to give the world pretty things to look at are now starting to die. When green leaves are no longer green. Pine cones fall more often and litter the ground.

To me though, those very same things are part of the reason I love this season.

The things that are starting to die, they really aren't. They're just preparing to rest awhile and getting ready to bust loose again in a few months. And those leaves, while no longer green, for a few weeks will dazzle us with their reds and yellows and browns and goldens. And those pine cones all over the ground will remind us to look up cause the pines stay green all year, kind of like God's hint to us that He knows we still need a little color.

It's been two weeks since I got a mosquito bite.

The fire ants have retreated.

I've worn hoodies, my favorite of all garments, for the past three days.

And yesterday it was just nippy enough that I built a small fire in my firepit just cause I needed to smell wood smoke.

I love the Fall.

But, please, no pumpkins.

Don Lively is a freelance writer and author of the new book, South O’Yonder. He lives in Shell Bluff. Email Don at Livelycolo@aol.com.

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