Fall has always been one of my favorite seasons. Raking leaves, jumping in leaves, crunching leaves... it's all so wonder*full. The trees burst in a riot of my favorite colors- orange, red and yellow dot the horizon and the sweaters come out of the hope chest. I love the mild(ish) weather before the winter comes. When we plant bulbs, carve pumpkins and go on hay rides.
Fall will always bring me smiles and Fall will always make me think of my Grandfather and the acorn incident of 1987.
My Grandparents lived on a magical piece of property. Acres of woods surrounded their home and we used to run through those woods like the Lost Boys. There was an ancient, slightly sqeaky, swing set set up in the woods and childrens' laughter would echo off the trees and down to the house at all hours of the day. My mom was one of eight, so there was never a shortage of grandchildren running in and out of the house like it was a revolving door. And in their home (which was just as magical) they had several enormous open fireplaces that were constantly burning when visitors came over. Even in the summer, the house smelled faintly of baking things and wood smoke. It was a luscious scent, one that I will always cherish.
We piled into my mom's old blue Volvo station wagon and went to visit my Grandparents in the Fall of 1987, and my two older brothers were given a job that day. They were to chop and stack wood for the winter months ahead... to keep those homefires burning. Not to be outdone, my five year old self, wanted a job too. So my grandfather gave me an old metal coffee can and told me to pick up acorns (to keep them from sprouting in the lawn). He promised me 10 cents an acorn, and it made me feel important, because I had a job to do- an important job, just like my older brothers.
Before he knew it, one coffee can turned into two and two into five, and five into ten.... and by the end of the afternoon, we could have reforested all of New Jersey with the amount of acorns I had collected. And when my coffee cans were overflowing and my brothers had stacked countless old tree trunks... we went inside with flushed faces and outstretched palms :) And you better believe, my pile of acorns totaled more than my brothers wood piles combined.
Fall will always make me think of that day. Of the surprise on my Grandfather's face when he saw and counted those acorns, of the disbelief on my brothers' faces, of the uncomfortable look my parents exchanged when totals were announced... and finally, how eventually, we laughed. And how that story was told and retold. And I will retell it to my children some day. Because it's the story of family. The reality of family. The slightly unfair, unpredictable, day to day life of family. And the story ends with laughter and warmth from the fire, and hugs, and a long sleepy car ride home in my mom's old blue Volvo station wagon.
And that's the acorn incident of 1987. At least how I remember it anyway. Old family stories go a little soft around the edges when they are told and retold and retold again. But one thing I do know for sure, my Grandfather never asked me to pick up acorns again ;)
My grandfather may never have asked me to pick up acorns again, but on long leisurely walks in the Fall, I still stop and collect acorns. I put them in my pocket and carry them all the way home. And I think of him. I think of him and the way he laughed. The way his eyes twinkled. And the way he made me feel important. I think of him.