HOLDING HIS PALATTE with a myriad of colors and enough brushes to paint the world, Ol' Jack Frost once again gets ready to pounce into our lives today. That is, if he hasn't already. 

HOLDING HIS PALATTE with a myriad of colors and enough brushes to paint the world, Ol' Jack Frost once again gets ready to pounce into our lives today. That is, if he hasn't already.   

So long summer.

Good to see you again, autumn.

Make no mistake about it, folks, summer is fine … no, make that great. For many, planting, cultivating and harvesting vegetables occupy much of their late spring and summer time. Outdoor activities that yield produce such as tomatoes, corn, and other mouth-watering veggies seem to make their work worthwhile. The season even shares with us its gorgeous flowers, green carpeted lawns and lush shrubbery. Picnics go on from early morn to setting sun. Ocean vacations, the mountains and far-away places are taken with full enjoyment.

Summer means hiking, horseback riding and spending relaxed time with family and loved ones. Most of all, it means a reprieve from school.

Many anxiously await the first corn of the season. Outdoor barbcueing takes precedent and local festivals spring up here and there.

Then back-to-school shopping signals summer’s end.  Labor Day sends us that message. Technically, summer lasts until the autumn equinox, but in reality the season is over right after Labor Day.

I enjoy living where we have the four annual seasons. Each one, lasting three months, is just fine with me. I sometimes wonder how others can cope with twelve months of "summer" and everything green for so long you can't help getting bored within a year.

Years ago, after a year in Arizona I was so tired of sand, bored with scenes bathed in hues of beige, brown and gray, snowcapped, treeless mountains, I quickly longed for the green east. Nor could I live in Alaska. With its continuous snows for months upon months, it would drive me batty. Even a rainy season that never seems to end would be more than I could handle.

But the change of seasons, especially autumn, I love.

Autumn is so different. Some use it as an analogy with life itself, saying they're in the autumn of their years. As if from that point on, all they have for which to look forward is the dread of winter, and then the hereafter.

 Not me. I don't see it that way. I never have. To me autumn's the best. The tops. Numero uno. With so much happening in three months, who out there would want to miss anything? With its beautiful colors adorning various trees and other foliage, thanks to Mr. Frost, its soft, gentle breezes, its lower temperatures that seem to invigorate us all, fall is about to make its annual appearance once again today, and I for one am thrilled and ready.

As I remember past autumns, I easily recall the Algonquin Mill Festival held in Petersburg, Ohio, just south of Carrollton on the second weekend of October. Almost every year since 1975 we'd take the kids there for hay rides, home country food, art shows, shopping and a first hand education on how the farm communities of America, and particularly Ohio, thrive.

The kids loved it. They'd see animals up close – mules, oxen, and pigs – and watch as the locals made apple butter. They’d even take turns stirring the batter. That was a big thing for them. They'd sink their choppers into warm bread, fresh out of a stone oven, smeared with freshly churned butter and then slathered with home made apple butter. We'd buy corn shocks for fall decorating, crushed corn and sun flower seeds to mix with bird seed and freshly made Sauerkraut which we'd bring home and freeze.

We still do.

For the kids, it became such an indelible memory so ingrained into their subconscious that, to this day, almost forty years later, it's as much a part of their autumn season as carving Jack-O-Lanterns. Naturally, they look forward to that special weekend each year, and now their kids do, too.

Taking the grand kids to look for pumpkins is always educational. When their parents take them, they make sure I know where they went and the little ones, so excited, tell us about the big pumpkins they bought just to carve into Jack-O-Lanterns.

They make sure an invitation is always extended my way with, "We'll be carving them on Saturday, Grandpa. Will you be able to join us?"

Now, how can you say "No" to such sweet, innocent, little children? It's one of those things I was never able to learn how to do. Besides, I want them to have good memories, not reluctant ones.

By raking leaves in huge piles, autumn gives the grand kids the opportunity to experience the thrill of jumping in them with their dog, building leaf forts and having leaf battles. It also offers afternoons of relaxation such as baseball's World Series, local high school football as well as college games. And what would a fall Sunday afternoon be without booing the Steelers, Ravens and Bengals and cheering on our beloved Browns?

Of course, each autumn also offers the excitement of political races and the results of elections, of which I always find fascinating.

Then there's Thanksgiving with its scrumptious meal consisting of golden browned turkey, all the side dishes  and topped off with a home made pumpkin pie. It's the one day of the year when we traditionally gather to share the bounties which Divine Providence has provided and to thank Him for all the blessings He has bestowed. With family and friends, we plead for world peace in our lifetime.

From the next day, Black Friday, on, until the cusp of winter, we prepare ourselves for the biggest holiday of the year. With a 2000-year history deeply steeped in a religion we dearly love, the myth of a snow-white-bearded gift-giver and wishing holiday greetings to folks we don't even know autumn signs out. It turns over to a season of bleakness and frigid cold that's bracketed between that joyous Yule holiday and, four days before spring, the wearing of the Irish Green.

Autumn offers so much more in such a small amount of time it's as if you were watching a summary of life. It always has been, it still is today, and for years to come it always will be my favorite season.

Hello, Jack Frost. Good to see you once again!

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