Walking outside to mail a letter, I stopped to breathe in the fall air. In one breath memories of childhood autumns in Michigan came rushing back into me, settling into my brain for the day. Images, scents and sounds were like old friends, inviting me to visit them one more time.
So I breathed in orchards, lonely and bare in November, with rotting apples on the ground and overgrown grasses between the rows. I heard clattering corn stalks in the fields before they are cut for winter.
I breathed the smoke of bonfires on the beach and heard the laughter of my friends standing around the fire, their backs to the dark cold, but with faces red from the heat of driftwood burning high into the night.
I breathed perfumed sweat in low-ceilinged banquet halls filled with partiers and polka dancers from three generations. I see lanky farm boys stealing Jagermeister shots from friends tending bar,then looking for dance partners in dark corners while awkward girls stand alone, trying to look old and bored.
I breathed spicy carnation corsages with matching ribbons that adorn long dresses at homecoming dances. I breathed the scents of Brut and English Leather on the fuzzy soft cheeks of young men in stiff new corduroy jackets.
I breathed the echo of coach’s whistles from faraway football practices, the drumbeats from marching bands preparing for a Friday game. I hear the band playing songs that carry to the corners of our small town, uniting us in a moment that we will remember years later. It is a moment that catches up with us on the way to the mailbox on a beautiful fall day, when we stop to breathe the scented air and think of how wonderful life can be on a Friday afternoon in the sweet decay of autumn.