A FARM BOY'S REMEMBERANCE OF OCTOBER AUTUMN
October 11, 2010
This was my childhood homestead. In the hills south of Buffalo, a diary and vegetable farm in this rustic rural agricultural region was the setting. A brisk, brilliantly colorful autumn season was the time frame back during the Depression years of the 1930's. The scene was a white farm house and gambled roof dairy barn surrounded by cultivated farm acreage, tucked away in the picturesque rolling Boston Hills of western New York. A glimpse over the rolling hills toward the western horizon would often display the glistening evening sunset streaming brilliantly across the clear Lake Erie waters. Other area farms and farm families were our neighbors and when in need, they were always there! And I cherished the four seasons on the farm: winter, spring, summer and fall. Each season played a unique role in life on the farm. But the fall season, October autumn ...seemed to be my favorite and that is still true today.
In a sense, autumn is a second spring when every colored leaf is a flower; trees and bushes takes on a new look, and the animals in the meadow spring into winter preparation. And "fall" plowing gets a heads up on "spring" plowing. The fall season begins with a subtle change in the light, with skies a deeper richer blue, and the night time hours becomes suddenly clear, starlit and chilled. The season comes full with frost, the disappearance of the migrant birds, and harvesting of the last season's crop which marks the end of another growing season. For us, winter squash and orange pumpkins were about the last to be harvested. It was time for the soil to go into a winter respite. The barns were filled with stored fodder for the cattle, and the grain bins were filled for the winter season. The potato cellar and vegetable bens were filled, providing there was a productive harvest, and the white and red potatoes were waiting to be sorted and packed for winter market.
The farm chores were a family affair and each family member had their job to do from the pre dawn hours to dusk in the western sky. Ah yes, and with the seasonal time change on the clock, we remembered to "fall" backward as we did "spring" forward. Back then, we referred to it as "fast" time and "slow" time.
October autumn carried with it many signs: the goldenrod has turned brown, the squirrels busily storing food for winter and birds emptying the bird feeders in record time anticipating what is to come. The winter storm windows and doors were put in place and Saturday mornings were usually filled with stacking cords of fire wood in the woodshed as fuel for the kitchen stove. Most of the farm tools were cleaned and put away in the tool shed waiting their turn to take on their task the following spring.
And every year like clock work, the winter mail order catalogue arrived in the mail and winter cloths and snow boots were on display in the catalogue. Only absolute essentials were put on the order list. Back then, many of the farm families did their family shopping via mail order. There were no shopping molls or plazas back then and the so called "big box stores" were non existent. I remember well trying to fit into last years winter boots into this year’s foot size. So, last years’ winter wear of my older brother seemed to fit me just fine; thus, for me, they were hand me down sort of "new" clothes.
Particularly exciting was when the mail order Christmas/holiday catalogue arrived in the October mail. What an array... three whole pages of "stuff for kids" and maybe, just maybe, this might be the year.
These are October memories. Many things have changed over the years: agricultural practices, farm tools, living styles, and the normal events of each day. And then, on the other hand, there are those October memories which are far more than just a passing thought. These memories live on and are part of the permanent fabric of life: the brilliant sunset on the lake, the beauty of the naturalness of nature, the evolving changing of seasons, and neighbors helping neighbors. And residing in our heart is the continuing thought of family and loved ones with whom to share my October autumn memories. For you see, these memories live on, not for just a season but for a life time. That is how I see it FROM THIS PERSPECTIVE.