For as long as I can remember, the approach of autumn has triggered feelings of anticipation, nostalgia, a bit of sadness and most of all a feeling of profound wonder.
For as long as I can remember, the approach of autumn has triggered feelings of anticipation, nostalgia, a bit of sadness and most of all a feeling of profound wonder. As a child, growing up on the farm, where natural things, in all seasons, plants, animals, clouds and the rain and snow, generated questions that could only be answered through my senses. Those sense of smell and taste, sight and sound, provided subtle answers to the many whys and whens, for which only nature can provide the answers.
Then through the many years of teaching children about science and the many natural phenomena, I was able to cement in my own mind the magnitude with which people can be inspired to express their appreciation of nature’s wonders. When autumn comes and children pose questions about butterfly and bird migrations, changes in the appearances of the leaves and flowers and a whole plethora of questions about weather and how plants and animals make preparations for winter, poems like “September” and “October’s Bright Blue Weather” Helen Hunt Jackson provide a hint of how human authors saw these as they occur from season to season and year after year with amazing regularity.
With the striking autumn colors of the maple, oak and cottonwood trees, come the natural curiosity of children to see them up close, how those changes take place. McPherson has a great number of beautiful trees, which present a photographer with an endless collection of autumn colors. The temptation for a classroom teacher to take students on field trips to gather some of the leaves to brighten the room for the season can only be satisfied by having some preparatory lessons before the actual field trip is accomplished. Such a temptation was kindled by the annual change in color of a giant maple tree two blocks north of Roosevelt school. So not to deny my students the pleasure of such an experience, we would talk about such changes as subjects to write about in our “writer’s workshop.” The students would bring a sandwich and an apple to share in a noontime picnic in the shade of that beautiful tree. After a discussion of how trees change color, each of us would pick up a handful of leaves, and head back to school. We would then write about our experience in “God’s great outdoors.”
The children insisted that I write, just as they were instructed to do. When they were finished, we would gather in our writing groups to share our experiences. Please allow me to share the product of my own experience, in “Farewell to Summer, A memoir for October:”
When “The Great Creator” in “His” plans so wise, divided the earth, the seas the skies, when the seasons emerged from spring to fall, with the verdant green of the trees so tall, “He” must have decided that the rain and the sun would bathe the earth til the summer was done. Then cool days of autumn would cover the land, and the leaves of gold would descend by “His Hand.” His great earth would change with the colors so bold, and set the scene for the winter’s deep cold. Soon all begins in the field and the lair, would retreat to their nests from a world cold and bare. So an ordered plan, with each part so complete, such an intricate scheme so detailed and so neat. How can I with my curious mind comprehend how each season begins and how will it end? Each leaf and each flower has done its part well, and now it is time to bid summer “Farewell.”
— Les Groves, McPherson