A Harvest of Memories

Fall DisplayWhat is it about the first crisp morning of fall that brings a rush of nostalgia—especially to those of us with more than a few decades behind us?
Of course so many of our memories are back-to-school ones. Even before the temperature begins to change, several of the stores I frequent set out their offerings of school supplies. I blame back-to-school memories for the fact that I’m a glutton for the smell of new pencils and colored markers, the feel of fresh notebook paper, and the aisles of all things “back-to-schoolish.” I have to stay away from such displays because one year I bought a purple binder I didn’t need, well—just because it was purple!

Yes, the memories in the back-to-school category are plentiful indeed. I remember wearing a new plaid dress to the first day of school each year—the only new outfit I would have until Easter. I wore my hair in a ponytail throughout elementary school, but my mom would always take me to get my bangs permed before school started. I would show up looking like I had a Brillo® pad glued to my forehead! My school photos prove it.

But fall nostalgia doesn’t stop there. At any age autumn makes us think of cozy sweaters, warm socks, hot chocolate in front of a fire, and front porches decorated with an array of brightly colored pumpkins and other gourds, corn, and mums. It’s the time of year when we may go for a walk in an old jacket just for the joy of hearing the leaves crunch under our feet. Having an old dog as a companion completes the experience.Golden Fall Day

I grew up in Tennessee, so my memories of fall drives through Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg to the Great Smoky Mountains through the years are replete with recollections of the fall displays on every corner. No cornstalk or scarecrow goes unappreciated in that part of the country in the fall!

And of course fall means the return of football, as my husband is so quick to point out. For him, the nostalgia centers around two-a-day practices and the year he was a high school running back playing for the state championship! Ah, the glory days. When he sees the football team practicing early in the morning on the dew-covered field at the high school near our house, it all comes back to him.

My teenage football memories center around cheering at high school games, but that little girl with the curly bangs remembers watching her parents go off to University of Tennessee football games on September Saturdays. My mom always wore a wool suit (no matter how warm the temperature on game day), heels, and a bright orange mum corsage. I was sure she’d be the prettiest fan there!

Pumpkins for SaleFor many farm families, fall brings more than a harvest of memories. It brings the actual harvest of the last of the crops and the joy of sharing the bounty with friends and family—or getting it to market. It’s also a time to cut and bale the hay, storing it in the barn for winter. As a girl, I loved throwing my school books down as soon as I got home on warm fall days, running to the barn to jump on my horse, Dolly, and riding through the freshly mown fields near our house. The smell of hay still transports me there in an instant.

What about you? What memories of fall do you treasure? Savor the nostalgia this year. Let it seep into your soul like a bowl of steamy oatmeal on a frosty morning.

Welcome, fall! We’ve missed you.

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  1. Thank you for the walk down memory lane! As a child, I would lay out my new clothes the night before the first day of school.

  2. Peggy Lovelace Ellis says:

    Great, Nancy!
    Your mention of clothing brings back memories. Here in the mountains of N.C., near Asheville, we began school in summer clothes (yes, new dresses; my mom was an expert seamstress), but when September turned to October , we always had a cool spell prompting dragging out skirts and sweaters. A couple of weeks or so later, we were back in summer clothing.
    With that memory in mind, I brought our my heavier clothing from my “under the bed boutique”, so I’m ready. As I write this, Hurricane Florence is working her way toward this area, so I will dig our my rain pants for the first time since Hurricanes Frances and Ivan in 2005, both of which hit us hard.

  3. Delightful, Nancy, You covered a plethora of fall memories and images. You can privately email me a photo of your grade-school bangs. I endured the pin curls.

  4. Loved the memories…especially the ‘brillo hair!! That gave me a good chuckle!! My mom would cut my thick, getting thicker, bangs before school sometimes and I was blowing “up my nose” all day long. In High School i got the all over brillo treatment!!
    Fun times!!
    Love you, Jimmie

  5. Elizabeth Van Liere says:

    A great run back in time, Nancy. Funny, I can’t pull up any special memories of those days. I’ll just enjoy yours.

  6. Oh Nancy! You had a new plaid dress each year too? My Dad always selected mine to be similar to the family tartan: Sinclair. Hadn’t thought about that in such a long time. The back to school hair cut was a dreaded one for me. I always loved long hair and was never allowed to grow mine until high school. What a different day we live in now. Who would have ever thought there would be Friday pajama day in the classroom for high school students or tennis shoes worn for more than gym? And mum corsages!!! I loved them all. Does anyone ever wear one these days? All those lovely fall memories – like my big Lab Rusty walking with me under a canopy of yellow, orange, red, and gold trying to locate where the smell of a baking pecan pie was coming from… and delightful hot chocolate Mom made from scratch to warm me from the first chilly days of fall. What lovely memories my friend!

  7. Margie Brown says:

    Being a mid westerner my memories center around crops being harvested, Picking pumpkins and carving faces
    Into them. And the bright color of bittersweet that grew in abundance along the road banks.
    Later when the harvest was over the light of burning corn stocks lit up the night.
    Thank you for the memories Nancy.

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