Fall splendor during October

By Patrick Fisher

Most of the trees have burst with an assortment of colors, the temperatures are getting colder, there’s the sound of farm machinery out in the fields and people are making changes to their homes and clothes.

It’s October and two things are just around the corner, Halloween and winter. The month of October has always been special to me, since it’s the month when there are certain sights and smells. To me, there’s a type of crisp smell in the air that reminds me of the harvesting of apples, corn and other crops. There’s also a slight chill on the wind like a small reminder that winter is coming.

Of course there are the sights. The leaves of the trees are a variety of reds, yellows and browns. The farm machines are out gathering the last few crops, which are now golden or darker colors.

Since I grew up in northwestern Minnesota, where there’s a lot of sugar beet farming, I’m also reminded of other smells. My family and I would often take trips to the two cities of East Grand Forks, MN and Grand Forks, ND (the two cities are only separated by a river). Since there’s a sugar beet processing plant there we could tell when it was going by the smell. On the good days it smelled slightly like some type of baked good. I once heard someone describe it as burnt cookies.

Also, people are pulling out long sleeve shirts, slacks, sweaters and jackets—the kind you wear in the fall or early spring during that transition time from warm to cold, or vice versa. All of these clothes have been in storage for the last few months. Some of the jackets have a type of musty smell, reminding you that they have been in the back of the closet and haven’t seen the light of day since March or May at the latest.

In the fall, as a child, I remember the times my siblings and I would come home from school and we would make caramel apples. These were usually the store-bought, do-it-yourself kits that our mom would help us with. Sometimes we would get the bags that had caramel squares that you had to melt down and then dip the apples in. Others included a circle of caramel that you wrapped around the apple, placed on a cookie sheet and put in the oven and let the caramel melt around the apple. We’d let them cool a little and then bite into them while the caramel was still hot. They were sweet, juicy and messy.

In the fall there’s the raking of leaves into piles, something that’s been done for years. And still today you can see children—and some adults—gather all the leaves into one big pile and then jump into them.

In October there’s also the build up to Halloween and trying to find a costume. Sometimes in my family we would wear hand-me-down costumes. These were usually the store-bought types, with a plastic mask and a plastic shirt with the character on it. Other times we would go shopping and find a costume for a character that was popular that year. A few times we would ask our mom to make us a costume. Sometimes she would make it out of old clothes or she would sew something together.

Whatever we had, we would usually go trick or treating as a family, starting in our neighborhood and then visiting the relatives around town. Among the visits were ones to our grandparents. They would sometimes have little candy bars, or a mixture of items such as candy corn and popcorn balls. Our grandparents would enjoy seeing what we were dressed up as each year, sometimes getting a smile or a laugh from them.

Of course, there were the years that Halloween would start out nice and then by the evening there would be snow on the ground. Sometimes the snow would be gone the next day or within a few days and fall would continue for a little while longer. Other times the snow would stay, marking the beginning of an early winter.

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