I’ve heard that of the five senses, the sense of smell is most tied to memory. I would agree. Going to college in Atlanta, I can remember kissing my boyfriend goodbye with the scent of honeysuckle and muscadines in the background. I felt like I was kissing my home goodbye, too. Although I didn’t visit often enough for my parents, when I did drive down I-75 and began to smell peanuts through the air conditioner vents, I knew I was almost home. That was comforting to me, even if it didn’t take long for my sniffling nose and itchy, red eyes to appear.
Of course, tied to that dusty peanut smell, is the sight and sound of those red peanut wagons bumping up and down the road. I remember watching my uncles fill those wagons in the fields, then taking them slowly but surely to the buying point. Those trailers annoyed me as a teenager – they were always in my way. Now, though they do make me slow down, I am grateful for the peanut wagons (and cotton trailers and hay-balers and tractors and combines) and the economic impact they have on individuals and my community.
As I grow older, I love this season more and more. While I enjoy my flip flops, I adore tying a colorful, cozy scarf around my neck. It is so much fun to attend fairs and festivals with family and friends, getting lost in corn mazes, taking hayrides, and choosing the perfect pumpkin to decorate. Kids dress in costumes for Halloween carnivals and trick-or-treating, while the teenagers wear their semi-formal dresses and bow-ties for the Homecoming dance. There’s nothing more exciting than cheering your favorite football team to victory, then watching the marching band’s halftime show, while anxiously waiting to see which beautiful young lady is crowned Homecoming Queen!
Fall provides a respite from scorching summer temperatures in the south. Summer is always too hot for anything outside, unless it is in or on the water. That makes us southerners truly appreciate fall. From a few minutes reveling in the cool breeze on my front porch, to festivals, football games, and family gatherings, fall provides multiple opportunities to celebrate being outdoors. And we southerners sure do enjoy a celebration! The south is my home, and I never feel closer to my home than in the fall.