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Those old fall days gone by

November 14, 2014
James P. Whipple , Shepherdstown Chronicle

As I have said many times, Autumn is my favorite season. There are a lot of reasons why I love the fall. One is because of all the colorful display of the fall foliage; another is the autumn festivities that happen around the county.

Though fall is a season of change, I look at it as the starting of a new year. My birthday is in the fall and each year that passes is like turning over a new leaf.

This is the time of year when outdoor temperatures begin to drop, days become shorter, nights become longer, but, somehow, I seem to find more time to spend with my family and friends.

There are a lot of wonderful childhood memories that come flooding back to me: Going on long scenic trips through the mountains and small towns hold a lot of happy moments in my life... In the cool weather I can remember the smell of hot apple cider filling the air. I remember the trips we would take to find pumpkins for pumpkin pies and to carve faces in them to make jack-o-lanterns. There were many fall events such as the tours of haunted houses that I was blessed to share with my loved ones.

The changing of the leaves is the most colorful time of the year in West Virginia and the surrounding areas. Large swathes of autumn reds and golds blanket the mountains and valleys. The brilliant fall colors light up the landscape for miles around.

During the few months of fall, my family would take a leisurely drives each Saturdays and sometimes on Sunday afternoons We would take old Route 11 that wound through the mountains, to see the beautiful array of different colored trees. This included the vibrant reds, golden-yellows and bright oranges touching an impossibly blue sky along Skyline Drive. As it became late, fall the leaves would change colors and become the most splendid colors right before falling off of the trees.

One of my fondest childhood memories was when my family and friends went camping at the Old Rag campground that sat off the Skyline Drive. I would get so excited anticipating the fun times we would have. We would visit farms and when we returned we would gather around the warm, crackling campfire, roasting hot dogs and marshmallows. We would sing old campground songs and talk about the things that we had done that day

One thing we would talk about was the hayride that we had taken. I loved those hayrides. Father knew a man, I believe his name was Mr. Evans, who owned a small farm near the town of New Market, Virginia. Mr. Evans would hook up the old wooden trailer to his to his horses, and then he would fill the trailer with both hay bales and loose hay for us to sit on.

He had two wagons, one for the grown ups and another for the kids. Mr. Evans would take all of the kids on hay rides for what seemed to be endless hours of fun. We would bounce up and down on those old country lanes. It was really nice to feel the crisp, fresh air against our freezing faces. After the ride there was hot cocoa and cookies for the kids. What a perfect way to warm up on a cold autumn day. And on a crispy November day when all of those memories come floating back, it warms the heart of this old man.



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