The garden pathway announces the autumn season with every step I take. The crystal clear water rushing over the rocks refreshes my senses with its sight and sound. The spider webs that stretch from plant to plant are hung with diamonds this morning.

At the end of my walk, I pass by the garden and pick the few remaining cherry tomatoes and tart green apples. The familiar orange pumpkins remind me of the thrill of celebrating simple things like holidays. As a child I remember believing with all my heart that Cinderella really did ride in a golden coach made from a pumpkin just like these.

Autumn always brings the anticipation of Halloween night!  As kids we spent eight weeks thinking of and planning our costumes. I don’t remember store-bought costumes; we made our own. Mom always had sheets, boxes and duct-tape and we cleverly transformed them into a super hero, a hobo, a pirate or a fairy princess. Your imagination was the only limit.

Growing up in Chicago, I had to figure out how to be the character I was imitating and still leave room for tights, sweatshirts and winter coats since there often was snow at this time of year. My trick or treat bag was a pillowcase, nothing fancy from the store. And the best treats were at the homes where the moms cooked. The only thing we bought at the store was a flashlight or batteries for a flashlight. I’m not that old, but I never remember the stores being so involved in the Halloween season except for the candy.

I used to meet my friends at the end of the block. We all had to watch out for our younger siblings, but only until 7:00. Once we shepherded the little kids home, we could return to trick or treating until 9:00. No one worried about the candy or what could be in it. It didn’t cross our minds to vandalize anything, and the highlight of the night was meeting at one of the friend’s houses’ to bob for apples and eat caramel popcorn. If we watched scary movies it was “Abbott and Costello” or Don Knotts’ “The Ghost and Mr. Chicken.”  I remember being scared out of my wits by “Dark Shadows,” “The Blob,” and “The Birds.”


When did things get so complicated?


Autumn is the time when students play organized sports, and belong to a club for everything.  Although I am an old athlete and support the wonderful character qualities often only learned through sports, I’m concerned children don’t know how to just get together without being organized or entertained.  I see the fatigue and stress too many ‘good opportunities’ does to them.  When do they get to just be kids?  Between school, sports, chores and clubs, there is no time for family or unstructured playtime.

My friends and I use to get off the bus, run home do our chores and promise to meet on the field at a specified time to play sandlot baseball, red rover or flag football.  We were in kid heaven.  We learned how to govern our selves fairly, choose teams without hurting feelings, and make decisions without the aid of adult referees.  We competed for bragging rights on the bus the next day, but it was never done in a vicious ugly manner.  We enjoyed our unsupervised time until the porch lights were turned on signaling an end to our day when we would return home to dinner and homework.  It appeared we were then as close to being as perfectly fulfilled people as we could be.  Then we grew up, and had to struggle to keep a balance between work and play, complicated and simple.


Is it society that is to blame for the pace? Perhaps somewhat.  But maybe, just maybe it has to do more with the choices we make. The world is full of opportunities, but I don’t have to take part in ALL of them. There is a magic pacing mechanism in us and we get to decide how fast or how slow it is set.  So I’ve chosen to spend time in our recliner, Bible in my lap and coffee beside me first thing in the morning. I embrace a period of quietness to inventory the true important tasks for the day. Then I walk. I walk with purpose. I remind myself to notice all the little things, to breathe deeply, to record all the sounds around me. Today I’m enjoying the colorful leaves that know the perfect time to rest for the winter–autumn’s simplicity.