As a little girl, I collected brightly colored maple leaves each fall, placing them between sheets of wax paper and then nesting them between the voluminous pages of Sears Roebuck, J.C. Penney and Montgomery Ward catalogs to flatten and preserve the leaves before they became brittle and curled.
We lived in the country, so a Sunday drive to take in the fall color was never necessary. All we had to do was look out of our living room or kitchen windows to see breathtaking views of autumn's finery. I got to see that beauty every weekday on the school bus as we rode through valleys and up hills, picking up and dropping off child after child to and from school.
Recess time at our quaint, old elementary school was meant for building forts, homes and castles out of fallen leaves, letting our imaginations soar with the possibilities that piles of leaves could create.
Fall was the time to walk up the hill behind our dear neighbor, Elsie's, big farm house and pick low-hanging pears off of the trees heavy with fruit. I recall indulging in too many of our pickings one year and getting a belly ache for my efforts.
And speaking of fruit of the season, it wouldn't be autumn in our neighborhood when I was growing up without several trips to Ski Hi Fruit Farm up the road from where we lived. The orchard is located high on a hill overlooking the Baraboo Bluffs. The owners of the orchard, Art and Olga Bassett and their children, Betty and Phil, were wonderful neighbors and dear friends. The apples they grew were always a treat -- and they still are today. My mom favored Macouns, so our home always had an ample supply of them. When I eat a Macoun apple from Ski Hi these days, I'm immediately transported back in time to when I wore knee socks and dresses to school and my mom and I would make a treat of sliced Macoun apples and popcorn every Sunday night for dinner when my dad was away for his work.
As a child, going trick-or-treating on Halloween was a safe endeavor. We'd drive into town with our neighbors, stopping at the homes of several of their family members and our friends, for the annual adventure. I didn't need to receive lots of candy, only enough to consider it a treat. My Halloween costumes varied from homemade versions of cheerleader uniforms to store-bought versions of Cleopatra.
October also meant carving pumpkins -- nothing fancy, just triangular eyes and nose and a toothy grin. Jack-o-lanterns with a candle stuck inside of them always created a happy pumpkin-face glow.
Now that October is here, I dedicate a little time to recalling fond memories of Octobers past. I also relish all that October in Wisconsin has to offer today. Autumn is at its peak. So spend some time outdoors savoring the season and this month of harvest and riotous color. Enjoy the many simple pleasures that October has to offer: Swish through dry leaves. Tuck a few of them between the pages of a book to save for later enjoyment. Visit an apple orchard. Try your hand at carving a pumpkin. Delight young trick-or-treaters by wearing a costume when you hand out Halloween candy.
October is a celebration for children and for the child in each of us whose youth is in the rear-view mirror. Indulge and enjoy! Make a harvest of memories during this glorious, glorious month.