Fall fell on the north Georgia piedmont Sunday evening, and I'm loving it.
I don't know exactly what time the cold front moved through that signaled the end of summer in these parts, but I know that I was outside most of the day and that the sun was shining and the weather was warm. I went outside sometime around sundown and had to go back inside and put on long sleeves. It reminded me of those glorious days of childhood when all I had to worry about was remembering not to wipe my runny nose on my sleeve and my hardest task was taking up ice for supper. I would walk to school in my shirt sleeves and then when school let out at 2:30 ,I would have to run home because the weather had magically turned nippy.
Don't hear something I'm not saying. I know that Jack Frost hasn't begun to paint the leaves yet -- not in earnest -- and I know that temperatures will soar into the 80s again soon, but this week's weather reminds us all that the Earth does indeed revolve around the sun and the third rock is getting closer to having made one more revolution.
That first touch of fall always makes me want to do fallish things -- and that's what I have done this week. I put on the oldest pair of corduroys I could find Monday morning -- or at least the oldest pair I could fit into -- and a sweatshirt, and enjoyed my coffee and newspaper on the front porch. I willingly blew the acorns off the back deck without having to be prompted by my lovely wife, Lisa, and then I went into the woods with my father-in-law and nephew and we spent the better part of the morning splitting firewood and hoping aloud for one good snowstorm this winter.
If the number of acorns that have been falling is any indication, we might have a couple of them.
When the weather turns brisk, I like to make chili. That's what I did Tuesday night and, if I do say so myself, it was scrumptious. Now I won't claim that it was as good -- or as hot -- as the magnificent concoction made by Jack Rawls, back in my Porterdale days, but it was fitting to eat and even our dog, Rachel, asked for seconds.
I really wanted to build a fire, but Lisa put her foot down on that one. She was the one who cleaned out the fireplace last spring -- twice, because I had to have a fire when blackberry winter arrived -- so I deferred to her wishes and just pretended I had a fire as I sat in my recliner, reading and sipping hot chocolate for the first time this season.
The feeling of fall made me wish that I could take a ride in the North Georgia mountains, stopping at every roadside stand to buy pumpkins and boiled peanuts and mountain apples. Alas, my schedule won't allow that this week. Isn't that a heck of a note? I am retired and on vacation and I can't make time to spend one day in the mountains. That doesn't make a lick of sense.
I did, however, make a little time to sit on the porch and ponder. Some preachers I know call it meditating, but what I did was more akin to pondering. I sat and thought about things -- including the creation of the universe, which is a pretty deep subject for a Tuesday afternoon. I looked at the gray clouds that contrasted beautifully with the blue sky. I watched squirrels gather nuts and geese heading south and a few dead leaves floating to the ground and I took comfort in the perfection of creation and the certainty of the seasons. I know for a fact that winter, not spring or summer, will follow the fall, and that the leaves that are falling from my trees today will be replaced by fresh new growth in the spring.
Finding myself in a pensive mood, I began to count the many blessings with which I have been bestowed. Who cares if Thanksgiving is six weeks away? There is never a bad time to offer thanks to God, and besides, if I started today and didn't stop until the end of the Macy's Parade on the fourth Thursday in November, I would have barely scratched the surface.
Yes, I am glad that autumn has returned. It gives some sense of stability to this crazy world we live in. Not much is like it was in 1958, when I first remember experiencing the first midday cold front passing through, but I do know that God is in heaven and that despite the many challenges that I face, it is well with my soul. Those are two pretty good things to know on a chilly fall day -- or at any other time of year.
Darrell Huckaby is a local educator and author. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Huckaby will be speaking on God's role in the framing of the U.S. Constitution on Thursday at 11:30 a.m. at the Conyers First UMC. For reservations, call the church office at 770-483-4236.