Memories of Fall
Beautiful fall days, like today, take me back to the Septembers and Octobers when I was growing up on the ranch. During those days the temperature was just right and the leaves on the chokecherry, serviceberry, oak, aspen, and birch trees that grow all around the ranch were in various colors. I have always loved the fall season; if only those days could have been home canned for later.
How enjoyable it was to walk the path to the top of the hill that was across the road from the corral. The view from the hill was breathtaking with all the colors. Likewise, it was rewarding to walk through the bull pasture and into the “forty” to collect the milk cow. When I was a kid, a favorite fall place was to stand on the gravel road next to the corral where the water trickled down the ditch and through a culvert under the road so that the water ended up in the bull pasture on the other side. Some trees grew along the ditch, and it was fun to watch leaves float downstream in the water, sometimes getting caught up in the rocks.
Oh those leaves! We kids picked up the leaves, and not knowing what to do with them, we put them between pages of heavy books in order to press them. I don’t remember doing much else with the leaves, but we probably drew and colored leaves and hung them up in our classroom at the Morapos School. (We could probably find the leaves from those days still pressed between the pages of the books.)
Interestingly, I did find a use for the leaves from the ranch trees. It was after I had grown up and was a teacher. On a visit home one fall I gathered different kinds of leaves and later attached them to index cards so my high school students could use them in a biology lab to make a classification key.
Another thing I enjoyed about the fall season was when the cows came home. They summered on the national forest, and about the first week in October the permit ran out and the ranchers had to get the cattle started home. Several ranches’ cattle ran together, so they had to be sorted. To get to the forest the ranchers took their horses up the county road south of our ranch, opened the gates, and rode into the national forest.
It wasn’t difficult to gather up most of the cattle, because they had summered there several seasons and they knew the drill. Once they realized it was time, the cattle didn’t need much encouragement. They headed to the gates and started down the county road.
The gates were left open, and so the cattle came down by themselves during the night. We girls slept upstairs with the window open, and we could hear the sounds of footsteps on the gravel road. That’s what I remember most about the cattle coming home. Sometimes a bull bawled, usually ours.
Remarkably, our cattle knew they were home, and they stopped off. The other cattle went right on down the county road.
They’re wonderful memories, and on beautiful days like this, they all come back. On my way from the corral this afternoon, I almost stepped on a tiny yellow maple leaf. I brought it in and put it in my daily planner book.
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