>I have always been autumn’s biggest fan. It’s not just because my birthday is in October, or because the baseball playoffs are so fun to watch. The fondest set of memories from my childhood completely center around autumn weekends and harvest festivities.
I grew up on a tree farm that my grandfather owned and my father worked on. We built our house on a large hill that looked over the 30-acre farm and irrigation pond. The farm had it’s own gas tanks and several large tractors and pieces of machinery. These tractors, combined with the long tractor trails that ran through the mazes of trees, made our property the most popular place to be on Friday and Saturday nights from late September to early November; we ran hayrides.
Dad would hook a large trailer full of hay to his big orange tractor and Mom would play her guitar and lead sing-alongs next to the campfire. We roasted marshmallows and hot dogs and drank hot chocolate straight from the huge metal pot it heated up in. After a long hayride all over the farm, we would come back and stay by the fire for what felt like the entire night. Every organization that we came in contact with would sign up for a night; the daycare next door, our church, The Pioneer Girls (Christian girl scouts)…it was so exciting to have people from all different parts of our lives come to our house for party after party. From the time I was born til my 12th birthday, I had a hayride birthday party every single year.
I don’t know exactly when my last hayride was. My father died one month after my 12th birthday, and we left the farm a little more than a year after that. Memories of families crowding into our basement to bob for apples or sneaking into the bucket of the tractor for the more thrilling view of the hayride used to be too painful to think about, but now they are absolute treasures during this time of the year. I realize that I desire so much to be like my parents, surrounded by a buzz of happy people, entertaining and providing such wholesome enjoyment for so many. What an old-fashioned and delightful way to celebrate one of the best parts in of the year! And I get to hold on to those lessons and memories for the rest of my life.
New traditions pop up as the years go on. Ben and I started dating during a flirtation involving Halloween costumes, endearing the holiday to my heart. We go apple picking in honor of the trip to the orchard we took just hours after he asked me to marry him. The past few years have been some of the best to be a Red Sox fan in the fall. Still, I never equated fall with apples or baseball or Halloween or leaves until I lived in Massachusetts. When I was a little girl on the tree farm in Pennsylvania, fall was hayrides.