Back in the Southwest corner, I have been ruminating.
I ruminate a lot, especially as I grow older, about where we all came from, where we have been, where we are now, and where we might be going. This includes a great deal of introspection about where I have been, where I am, and where I might be going.
And then I realize the world, like Ole Man River, just keeps rolling along. Now we have rolled into autumn.
The weekend was a harbinger of Southwest corner autumn. The marine layer moved back in with a vengeance. Seacoast morning fog alerted us to the change while the low-80 highs of the mid-week kept telling us summer wasn’t giving up easily. The weekend was overcast and temperatures stayed in the low 70s, typical for the upcoming season.
I ruminated about autumn in Lebanon, permanently attached to memories of football and leaves.
My father started taking me to Blue Devil games on Friday nights when I was 6 (1950). The high school and junior high stadium was located behind where Sellars Funeral Home is now, the corner of Baddour Parkway and Fairview Avenue. That old stadium with wood bench seats on a steel latticework frame was my view of a perfect football field and still is.
I’m sure there were warm nights for games, but I don’t remember them. I remember cold autumn nights and heavy coats with my feet tingling cold. That was football weather.
For me, the leaves were the real measure of autumn’s arrival. They were also my last measurable income for the year. Mowing the yards of J. Bill and Bessie Lee Frame and Fred and Ruby Cowan across the street from us was my income until my summers belonged to Jessie Coe’s Public Works Department and Cedar Grove Cemetery. Then, brother Joe took over the lawn duties.
In those days, there were more trees with more plumage lining Castle Heights Avenue, especially for those two homes. The city was much less severe in tree trimming near power lines in those halcyon days (The trees actually looked like trees rather than large sculptured bushes). Around this time of year, the leaves never seemed to stop falling. They quickly mounted to knee high. I would rake the yards, leaving four to five mountainous leaf piles. We burned them on the side of the road back then. It seemed like the next day they had returned, and the raking would begin anew.
It was cold enough to wear a long sleeved flannel shirt, but within fifteen minutes, I would start sweating. Of course several times during each raking season, I could not avoid the temptation and would dive head first into a pile. I never seemed to remember how much those dried leaves itched until I could take a bath.
We don’t plan to be in Tennessee this autumn. We, or rather I chose to head to Austin and College Station just before Halloween. Vanderbilt friends, Al and Jim Hicks will join us for the Vanderbilt, Texas A&M football game in Aggieland. Maureen and I will also be able to spend time with our daughters, son-in-law, and of course Sam, our grandson. I just couldn’t turn down that combination.
But I had a proxy in Lebanon this past weekend. My older daughter, Blythe, flew in with her mother to visit with “Grandma,” Estelle Jewell. The weather apparently was not of the autumns I recall from my youth in Lebanon. Yet Blythe taking my mother back to Deer Park, now the family’s home away from home, beckoned me more than any leaves or football game.
Blythe posted many family photos from the neatly filed albums stored in a cabinet in the dining area. She and her mother, Kathie, would then be regaled with stories of Jimmy and Estelle Jewell from Lebanon past with all of the associated characters.
Initially, the title of this column was “Potpourri.” Then I got rolling on autumn. Near the end, I began thinking a new title was needed. Potpourri is the term I’ve used for columns with numerous subjects, but the words here all seemed to stick together. I searched the web for “autumn potpourri” and found those scents of fruits and nuts have a special place for this season.
“Autumn Potpourri” seems to fit.
Jim Jewell is a writer and retired Navy commander living in San Diego and working for Pacific Tugboat Service. He was the director Navy’s West Coast leadership training and has been an consultant in executive coaching, teambuilding and organizational development. Jim still calls Lebanon his home.