Armchair Peregrinations

October 24, 1998

A journal entry from 16 years ago today; age: 31; residence: Columbia, S.C.

October 24, 1982: It is another quiet Sunday. Overcast, cool and wet. Autumn shows itself in the rich, yellowish-gold leaves on the tree outside my window. All the green is changing to other colors, much of it muted reds and browns. There is something so nostalgic and memory-inducing about this harvest time of year. Dried corn, pumpkins, yellow leaves, that different smell in the air -- it all fits together as a collage of misty impressions. Moody, longing for childhood, and innocence. A big pile of leaves to fall in and rustle and smell -- it's a smell of earth and ground, and there is the essential dryness of it. How I wish I could more easily tap the fountain of long-ago memories. What has happened to them? What is it that enables us to quickly retrieve them? The fields and woods of autumn tell us a lot, but not enough. I am seeking powerful recollections of the past, perhaps to assure myself that those bygone days of youth were not as misspent as I sometimes imagine them to have been.

Autumns growing up in a large city are always less apparent, especially when the leaves on the trees just turn brown and die. But there was always the distinct coolness, even in New Orleans, after windy Septembers and Octobers. Then there were the acorns covering the ground under ever-present live oaks. What did I do those autumns of years past? There was football with the kids in the neighborhood and school seemed more bracing and bearable in the cooler weather. But then there were no more fields and woods to explore after I was thirteen, and I guess I missed the loss of that more than anything else.

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