Autumn leaves

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leavesI knew exactly what Jim Barton was doing. He was drawing the inside of a man’s head. It featured B-B’s for a brain and a voice box.

What Jim wasn’t doing was paying attention to our former Marine and 6th grade teacher Miss Zircle.

I can still hear her skirt swishing as she moved quickly down the row of seats to Jim’s where she grab his drawing, wadded it and slapped him several times on his left cheek.

I thought it was funny. And I must have laughed out loud. Without warning, Miss Zircle swiveled around and slapped me on the left cheek. Several times.

That’s about all I remember from 6th grade.

Except walking home down Thurston Street for lunch. My face still burned as I kicked gold and red leaves off the pavement. This time each year the classroom scene returns to me.

It’s not with sadness that I remember. It’s just a tiny if unforgettable slice of my history with autumn. These days, at age 77, this remains my favorite season of the year.

Early today, there I was again walking four miles or so in Foster Park. Bart, another guy in his 70s, joined me. I didn’t think to relate my experience with Miss Zircle in the 6th grade.

Despite the stress fracture on my left heel, I enjoyed the hike, while regretting the heel problem that prevents me from jogging.

Nothing competes with the fall color. Here in northeast Indiana, a few trees have begun to show red and gold, nicely set off with the deep green of spring and summer.

That time was also football in my side yard with Tommy Gottwald, Davy Morehouse and the Burtwell brothers from the neighborhood.

By now, I suppose Davy has forgiven me for breaking his collar bone. I still recall him in Miss Lind’s room sitting next to the window with his arm in a sling. Once again, I guess autumn has its price.

The setting for my favorite fall memories seem to be located outdoors. One time I skipped school and joined Dad and Ernie McGinnis from the B.F. Goodrich store on Clinton Street to go fishing in the Auglaize River.

I suppose we caught a few blue gill or catfish. That would have been a typical catch at our favorite fishing holes. Maybe we also caught a huge carp – quickly thrown back into the river.

When Mom, Dad and I lived in the small town of Latty, Ohio, Carl Goings and I skipped school to go pheasant hunting. No luck. But I loved tramping through the woods and ripened corn fields.

During the fall, in college and graduate school, again I found myself walking. In Lansing, Michigan, and in Cincinnati, Ohio, I found the easy strolls through the downtowns relaxed and energized me in preparation for the first exams.

I suppose all these hundreds of walks and jogging through the years helped keep me reasonably trim and exceptionally healthy for a person now my age.

I don’t belong to a gym or subscribe to some exercise regimen. All my program costs is the price of running shoes, which I replace every few months or so.

Here I am in early October and looking forward to heading for the park first thing in the morning. I’m just so thankful for the changing seasons, autumn above all. I’m thankful for the inspiring beauty of all it.

Most of all, I’m thankful for the ongoing benefit to my mental and physical health that I enjoy daily.

I don’t expect to live to 100. But I’m pretty much assured to be around tomorrow and love every moment of it.

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