Falling

Falling

By Blaney Pridgen


All writers in Op Ed are here to inform and acknowledge issues of importance to our communities, however these writings represent the views  and opinions of the authors and not necessarily of The Advertiser. 

Sometimes you just don’t want to think about serious stuff.  Fall is one of those times for me.

Fall is a season of a certain slant of a brighter, cleaner light in slightly cooler air as the malarial summer moves on.  Green leaves lose their luster like dusty doors in Charleston.  Then, the trees are an old gal who finally decides it is time to wear bold, loud colors.  Who cares what the sisters and daughters say?  Fall is also the season where memories are collected in the colander of the mind.  Obviously for me, it is also the season for run on metaphors.  That is, until Thanksgiving and Christmas creep in with their sentimental disappointments.  In the South, we got Fall.  Let’s leave the sleigh bells and snowmen to New England, where it’s really too cold for football.  But, back to fall, the best season.

For us, fall begins with the ritual of putting away the seersucker suit and sleeveless blouses where the mothballs used to be.  My seersucker suit didn’t get any use this summer.  You can’t dress up Covid.  But enough of the serious stuff, if but for a moment.  Back to the pumpkin, that overweight ridiculous fruit.  The pumpkins of fall remind me of an overweight Clemson fan who ate too much peach ice cream all summer.  Sorry Carolina fans.  Clemson got the color right for football in the fall.

Thinking of football and fall memories, I remember Hubert Morris, Cally Gault, Jim Buist, and yellow.  My readers will have other names and other colors, but they all sing fall.  Football…the smell of mown grass and practice field weeds, the clap of shoulder pads, of cymbals and of hands of standing fans.

Then comes that first slight frost in the lower part of the yard and that first morning after too many muggy days of summer when hot coffee delights cold noses.  Fall is the silliness of Halloween and the soberness of All Souls Day, when we laugh at the little ghosts and live with the old ones.  Well, enough of that too!  Fall is also the perfect time for motorcycles and convertibles, the toys of old men in the autumn of their years.  If you don’t have either of those, you can at least cut the air conditioner off and roll the windows down.  This time of year, the best rides are anywhere and better than spring because there’s no pollen to suffer, only the smells of fallowed fields and wood smoke.

I remember a fall, either 1960 or ’59.  My father bought a ’58 Volkswagen, the car I learned to drive in.  It was that classic pale green color, a little brighter than olive drab.  It also had the outlandish classic bumpers before the ruinations of the Super Beetle.  We took it to the Blue Ridge Parkway to see the leaves.  My father later sold that car.  I never figured out why or asked.  I remember him putting his arm over the roof and telling it goodbye.  I didn’t want it to go either.  Well, my mother couldn’t drive it.  In another fall, I bought my first new car, a ’67 Volkswagen, the last year of the bumpers.  I drove it to California the following summer and came home in time for Thanksgiving.  Later, I partially restored a ’55 with the tiny rear window.  My father helped, paying for a new paint job: that pale, almost olive drab green.  Memories of the fall and a precipitous fall from childhood.  By the way, he often borrowed my ’67.  The soberness of All Souls is creeping in.

I hope this personal paean to fall helps you find something to celebrate in your thoughts.  This is an absolutely terrible time in many ways.  A little escape is good for the soul.

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