Autumns: 1


The leaves is Chicago seem greener than they should be for Oct. 19. Of course, they were completely green in front of our house when we left Salt Lake; even the maple that goes a pretty shade of maroon hadn't quite changed. Perhaps we will see more color when we return. Here, there is mostly green with some yellow. The lawn in front of my father's house will need to be raked soon -- that hasn't changed over the years at this date -- but it's not covered yet.

Autumn technically stretches all the way into December, but don't kid yourself, Thanksgiving is the mental end of the season. That puts mid-October right in the middle of it.

September and October of eighth grade may have been the most pleasant months of any fall in my youth. Every memory is a sunny day, the scant need for a sweatshirt, and the leaves.

And a song. And a music video.

The music of this fall keeps coming back to me, over and over. I would tape "Friday Night Videos" and watch it repeatedly; then record the next week's on a different Beta tape.

Those first two months of eighth grade, through my birthday, still felt like seventh grade. Or maybe even sixth or fifth. The rest of eighth grade wasn't as carefree -- it seemed that when I passed 13, the teenage angst really started piling on. For two months, however, fall was perfect.

Michael started 3-year-old preschool this fall. Each day is a playful adventure for him. He's made great friends and has met them at the park for playdates. Ben loves walking to pick him up from school and joining him at the park.

However, the school we chose is not what we expected or even wanted, and clearly is not a good fit for him or us. As fall winds down, this becomes apparent. Michael starts at a new preschool in January, and we never look back.

The Bears are winning in convincing fashion. They will go on to win the Super Bowl in January.

Fall was excellent. I had as closest as I would get to a high school girlfriend during this time. I really got serious about cross country and was diligent all November training for track next year. I was getting almost straight A's as a sophomore after struggling my freshman year.

Except for the Bears winning the Super Bowl and a couple other minor triumphs, I would remove 1986 completely from my life if given the chance. That's too bad, because the lead-up, minus a couple minor fall hiccups, was amazing.

"Looking out, across the morning ..."

I went on this amazing hike at the Pheasant Ridge Conservancy in Middleton. The hike reminded me of the ones I used to take in Madison when we lived here. The colors on trees are exploding in the distance. I know I shouldn't go out too far, that I need to get back so we can all go to breakfast, but the trail keeps pulling me into the distance, toward the rural land that is closer to the metro Madison area than one might think. I try to make sense of everything going on in my life -- the kids growing older so quickly, my job, the fact that vacation is ending in a couple days -- and can't think of a better location or moment to do so. A single windmill is visible in the distance, and though it's one of a group, all in my view is the one, the rest obscured by trees.

Lori texts me and tells me to come back, and though I'm starving for breakfast, I want to explore the rest of the land and take more pictures. I want 15 more minutes out here, savoring songs from 30 years ago, inhaling the crisp fall air, soaking in the sun.

We drove back to Chicago that afternoon and stopped in a gas station in Janesville. I added a few gallons to the gas tank and went into the store to buy something salty. "Human Nature" by Michael Jackson is playing over the Kwik Trip speakers, and it is invoking the fall memories as much as my earlier hike did. I'm so glad we took this trip back in the fall. So many autumns ...


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