I just came back from a trip and found my yard littered with leaves. That is the sign for me that fall has officially arrived. Cool crisp days. Early sunsets. First frosts. Football Fridays. All this set me to thinking of my top ten fall activities as I was growing up in Youngstown. Your list might be different but I bet at least a few of these are on yours!
10. Raking leaves into big piles and jumping into them. Wasn’t this a clever way for our parents to get us to rake the leaves?
9. Burning leaves when this was still allowed. Nearly every late afternoon, you could scent the smell of burning leaves in the air. The pyromaniac in me loved doing this. Thankfully, I never set anything on fire I wasn’t supposed to!
8. Hayrides at some of the rural farms in the area. Always more fun if you were with a girl, but I remember great evenings singing folk songs, eating fried donuts, drinking cider around a campfire.
7. Haunted houses. Weird lighting effects. Skeletons and ghouls that would leap out at you. Headless horsemen. Great for raising money for local causes.
6. Touch football after school. Seems like most of my buddies growing up weren’t good enough to play on a team but that didn’t keep us from playing epic contests at Borts field, pretending we were Frank Ryan, Jim Brown, or Gary Collins (those were the years I was a Browns fan). No helmets, no pads but can’t remember any of us getting hurt. We did manage to get muddy.
5. Pressing the most colorful leaves we could find into books between sheets of wax paper. Forgetting you did this until you cleaned out your parents’ house years later.
4. Listening to or watching the World Series. Most of the time it seems we were either rooting for the Yankees or against them. Sadly, no Indians teams to root for back then. So glad it is different now. This could be the year!
3. Football rivalries and homecomings. Our big rivalry was the Chaney-Austintown Fitch game. Every school had one.
2. Making our Halloween costumes. It was cheaper and somehow more fun to go as a pirate, bum, princess, or tramp then any of the cheesy costumes they sold at the store. And some people rewarded creativity with candy!
1. Probably for everyone, the big activity was walking, riding, or driving through Mill Creek Park savoring the smell of the leaves and the myriad of colors. I most loved how some of the trees seemed to glow with a light of their own on dark and rainy days.
While summer was probably my favorite season as a kid (no school), I think the fall season is probably my favorite now. I still love working in the yard on those cool, crisp days and the colors and smells of autumn leaves. While I’ve outgrown some of my favorite activities from those growing up years, I still enjoy the memory of them. How about you?