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Ah, the perfect season of the year - Bob Paslay

Autumn doesn't actually begin until Sept. 23, but already there is fall in the air. The milder temperatures, the sense of heading toward the most exciting several months ahead, are upon us.

We always play the "what is your favorite," "what is the best" game in life when in reality you don't have to choose. You can love spring and fall and each can bring those special elements that makes each special.

This is kind of where I am, because I do love spring. But fall is certainly a close second if not my favorite season.

I lump October, November and December together as autumn even though I know that Dec. 22 is actually the first day of winter this year. Usually we have mild Christmases and so it is easy to extend fall a few extra days.

There is nothing more fun than watching the leaves change a dark hue of every color of the rainbow. If you go to the mountains and look across the expanse of a valley and see trees of yellow and red and brown as far as the eye can see, you sit quietly in awe of the splendor.

You stop on the side of the road and look at the intricate hand-made quilts hanging there as you buy a half-gallon of apple cider and some yellow apples and maybe a pumpkin for carving. Back home you start the fire, warm up some cider and then just take a few minutes to enjoy the simple things in life.

Even wrapped up in a sweater in your yard raking those thousands of leaves doesn't even seem to be much of a chore because the weather is crisp with life and chill.

I am from old school stock and don't have the pusher, blower, mulcher, vacuum. I have the $6 metal rake and the used sheet. And I rake and rake and then haul the leaves to the street to be taken away by the city workers. Some politically correct cities are now mulching them for you and leaving you a pile of mulch for your garden.

When I have a nice big pile, if a neighbor kid does a running full dive into the pile I don't get mad. I laugh and remember my childhood. The outside of each of us may say Mr. or Ms. Adult, but the inside says "Yahoo, leaves to jump into." There are no real adults in autumn.

Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas all hold a special place in my life because they were each filled with anticipation. And when the actual day came, each was so much fun that the anticipation didn't outstrip the fun of the day.

They are spaced just far enough apart to allow a little recovery, but are still close enough to be remembered as one long stretch of fun.

Think of the concept. You find some junk around the house and make yourself a costume and then get a grocery bag and knock on people's doors and they drop candy in your bag. Wow, what a great plan. I am dating myself by the simplicity of how we did it, because now I know there are costume shops and specialty this and that. There is also the ever-present fear and warnings about razor blades in apples.

If memory doesn't fail me, I believe there was one foreign object in one apple in one little city and now that one incident reverberates in all our lives.

Give it to one kook to take a perfectly wonderful plan and goof it up.

Thanksgiving was always a great time because of the feast that outstripped anything we had during the entire year. My grandmother, a long-time schoolteacher of great breeding, and my grandfather, a venerable attorney, had such nice formality to the event. The pocket doors would open from the den into the dining room when everything was ready. We as kids had our own table apart from the adults. And cloth napkins and fine glasses, no jelly jars or mismatched anything.

The movie "Christmas Story" so perfectly mirrors my family and my childhood that I don't need to go into any details. There were those Christmas lights that didn't sing or dance or have cartoon characters. They were just multi-colored and lit up the real tree.

What was fun about Thanksgiving and Christmas is that we were out of school. It was almost sinful, like a parole granted from the daily routine of trying to cram knowledge into our heads. I have not mentioned autumn as the time of football because it is such a part of it that it goes without elaborating.

Great writers like the essayist E.B. White and poet Robert Frost have so perfectly captured the taste of autumn that I will say no more so you can drive to the library and check out some of their works and get in the mood for the season to begin.

Bob Paslay is assistant managing editor of the News Daily and Daily Herald. He can be reached at bpaslay @news-daily.com or at (770) 478-5753 ext. 257.