Autumn Stirs Sweet Memories

As our mornings turn cooler and trees change from green to yellow and orange, memories of the sights, smells and pleasures of autumns past come flooding back.

Memories of sights, colors and smells can stir our emotions and a deep, instinctive level.

When I see trees changing colors and the first frost on a meadow, I go back in time to autumns in the forests and fields of Lookout Mountain where we lived and Shinbone Valley where I went to school as a child.

The smells of new mown grass, burning leaves and hot cider stir memories of playing pickup football with other little boys in the end zone of the rural high school where my father was principal. That town, which could have been the model for the fictional Mayberry, had both a red light and a high school back then.

Smells of autumn also bring back sweet, and sometimes bittersweet, memories of high school football games and the excitement of fall weekends during college.

Once when coaching my son’s youth soccer team just before sundown in the last game of the fall season, trying to restrain our boys from running up the score too much, I looked across the field toward a line of brightly colored autumnal trees illuminated by the setting sun.

At that moment I felt a flash of epiphany, a peaceful feeling that, “It just never gets any better than this.”

Memory is a fascinating thing. While memories of color and smells may stay with us for life, fortunately most of us can’t remember physical pain. Otherwise, no woman would have a second child and the human race would have died out long ago. We can remember our reactions to physical pain, but can’t reproduce the sensation of pain in our minds. On the other hand, we can recall and relive emotional pain decades ago as if it were yesterday.

As we move through the fall toward Thanksgiving next month, let’s all pause to remember the good things and count the blessings of treasured moments of ordinary life.