Crisp days of autumn spark boyhood memories

Jerry Apps

As a farm boy, I allotted one-word descriptions to each of the seasons:
Spring: Planting, Summer: Growing, Fall: Harvesting, and Winter: Resting.

Take time to appreciate the beauty of fall, wrapped around the hard work of the harvest.

Each season is much more than can be described in one word. Take my favorite season, fall. Of course, it involved harvesting. I remember so well when I was a kid. Pa cut our 20-acre cornfield with a one-row, McCormick corn binder, pulled by our trusty team of horses. The binder spewed out bundles of corn stalks, neatly wrapped with binder-twine.

It was my job, and when the corn was all cut, Pa joined me, to stand the bundles into corn shocks. What a sight to see at day’s end when the cornfield had become an Indian encampment, with teepees standing in neat rows—or so it appeared.

It was hard work, but it also had its high points. By this time in the fall, the trees were in full fall color. The maples brilliant red and yellow. The aspens had turned to yellow, and the oaks announced a soft, natural brown.

And the smells, oh how I enjoyed and still do, the smells of fall. The subtle smell of drying cornstalks, the clear, clean smell of an early morning when frost coated the grass and caused the last geranium and other flowers still alive to wither and die.

With the corn in shocks, it was off to the woods for the first round of wood cutting, making wood we called it. Hard work, but also filled with the smells of drying oak leaves, the sight of a clear blue sky, and the feeling that summer had become a memory as we moved deeper into fall.

THE OLD TIMER SAYS: Appreciate the beauty of fall, wrapped around the hard work of the harvest.

Jerry Apps, born and raised on a Wisconsin farm, is Professor Emeritus at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and the author of more than 35 books, many of them on rural history and country life. For further information about Jerry's writing and TV work go to