The trees are in full color, and the leaves are beginning to lazily float their way to the earth, where not-so excited seasoned rakers are lamenting the last of their garden chores for the year.
It used to be, in the times ignorant of air pollution, lung diseases and global warming, that these romantic days would find the air filled with hazy smoke, heavy with the earthy, warm fragrances of burning leaves. As families would make a day long event of cleaning up the yard, and early dusk would fall, one could stand at the end of our street, and see the red embers still winking in the smoldering piles of ash, all along the curb. It would be with great reluctance that we would head inside, even though we knew that a warm meal was waiting for us. There was something so magical, so mystical, so intoxicating about those days, soon drawing to a close with the advent of pure Winter.
There was a yearning to capture this moment in time, to steep in it, absorb it, somehow make it your own, to last forever. Heightened senses were tuned in to every nuance, every color, fragrance, and sound, filling you with an abounding energy.
And so it was with this enthusiasm, that almost everyone, especially children, looked forward to the annual newspaper publication, Injun Summer, by John T. McCutcheon.
The Chicago Tribune began running this piece in the Fall of 1907, and continued to run it the week before Halloween, each year, until October, of 1992. The editors were aware that the language may be offensive to the Native People of this country, so they ceased publication.
But to a woman who had nothing but fond memories of reading it with her parents each year, and who still felt wrapped in a cocoon of security, thinking that Yes!, the Native Spirits were still around her, this decision was a sad one.
Where I grew up, the local Tribes had used the rivers and streams as transporation, and they made their seasonal camps all along the banks, and throughout this whole area. I often found arrow heads, broken beads, pieces of pottery when I would be out playing along those same streams, in the same ravines. And when there was an excavation in our neighborhood, with new houses going up, all of us kids would be there, to see the treasures that were to be found.
I was also fortunate to have a couple of school teachers who were extremely interested in our local tribes, and had access to real artifacts, and speakers who were decendents of those same people who had lived here so many years ago.
So with that background, combined with the headiness of the season, it was easy for me to see the Spirits dancing in the smokey wafts, winding upwards, curling around tree limbs, spiraling on up to the moon!
I can remember dismissing a few lines that seemed "silly" to me, because I knew that what it was describing, wasn't so, but what remained was the connection. The ties of the People of the past, coming back at this most special time to me. Yes, I could see them in the smoke. I could feel their presence, and hear their whispers. And it was a comfort beyond words.
May all of your memories be close to you heart, and bring you joy,