Regular readers of this column will know that I consider Aug. 1 to be the real New Year’s day because it is the start of high school football practice.
That notwithstanding, the fall is the most thrilling, energetic time of year for me. Football is in full swing for people of all ages, from Mighty Mites to the NFL, professional baseball is entering its elongated post season and hockey is about to begin. Like so many around these parts, I’m a recent convert to hockey and I’m a casual enough fan that I’m actually still learning the rules in some cases and I haven’t trained my eye to keep up with the puck when it’s fired like shot from a cannon.
For people who’s definition of sport doesn’t include a ball or a puck, bow-season is underway and hunters who like to use their own guns can see the beginning of deer season in the not-too-distant future.
And, if sports isn’t your cup of tea at all, fall is still a fabulous time. Cooler temperatures make it possible to sit on the front porch without wiping sweat off your brow nonstop. The sky, for some reason, is a crisp, never-ending patch of blue.
Fall also means the end of grass-cutting season is drawing near. That dreaded, miserable job brought me my first few dollars as teenager when I took over for my friend Dean Morrell the task of cutting the grass for the two widow ladies who lived next door to us and across the street.
My brother and I shared that job for several summers. Mrs. Watson’s yard was smaller and largely devoid of landscaping that caused us to be careful as we cut. We could get out there, run the mower back and forth for an hour and be done. Mrs. Veazey’s yard, though, was a different matter. Heavily landscaped with lots of different flowers, none of which I could identify, Mrs. Veazey’s yard was always a challenge. And, Mrs. Veazey was an exacting employer. She would walk through her yard after we were finished to inspect our work. More often than not, we had failed to cut the grass underneath a low-hanging bush, or we might not have cut the ditch as neatly as she would have liked. We had to fix that before we got paid.
One year, my brother and I decided that the $5 per week we got for cutting Mrs. Veazey’s grass was not really worth the effort. Somehow, we mustered up the courage to tell her we were going to have to raise her bill to $7 per week. She took it in stride and continued to expect good workmanship from us.
I remember thinking then that I would be able to stop cutting grass once my own children came of age to cut the grass. I didn’t realize then that my children would one day leave home and I would be relegated to cutting the grass again. That time hasn’t come yet, but it creeps closer as every grass-cutting season ends. Still, the first frost is much anticipated around our house and as temperatures drop, my children yearn for the first frost.
Taken in altogether and there’s plenty of reason to believe autumn is the perfect time of year.