By Pamela Moeng
The weather these days reminds me of my childhood. I remember trudging home on hot autumn afternoons, crunching dried gold and russet leaves underfoot, kicking horse chestnuts ahead of my little feet, and relishing in the smell of burning leaves in someone’s garden.
Those childhood walks are long gone now, but the deciduous trees in Johannesburg, with their flaming branches, bring back those glorious hours, right after summer and a heartbeat away from the winter chill.
There’s a certain slant of light, said an American poet – Emily Dickenson – and I find that especially true of autumn days. The quality of light on a brilliantly blue-sky autumn afternoon is unique. Afternoons are still sweat inducing, but mornings and evenings bear the brisk air that is a harbinger of winter.
In front of my little bungalow a few deciduous trees stand sentry along the street. As the year unfolds, the trees change their wardrobe and each season brings a reminder of girlhood days, memories created when the world was as small as a rural valley between two worn down mountains.
Clothed in green tips, the trees herald spring; in summer their lush green plays host to birds nesting; in winter their stark branches scratch the sky like claws; in autumn they drop gold and russet jewels to the grass below.
As the years pass, remembering where I put my car keys is a challenge, but the memories of those hours growing from childhood to young adult and beyond are as crisp and clear as the autumn sun. How I loved to listen to my grandparents talk about when they were small, and now my children want to know what it was like so very long ago when I was a child.
They can hardly believe that television was not a 24/7 presence or that telephones were all landlines – what else could they possibly be? MacDonald’s was still a mom-and-pop outlet in a small town in the USA instead of a pop culture presence around the world.
So many things have changed, and yet so many things remain the same. I listen to the giggles and shouts of the two little boys who live next door. Asking daddy a million questions; crying for mommy when one of them falls.
A lifetime and a continent away, children remain the same. And autumn days are still hours of gold and russet jewels drifting from the trees to make a crunchy carpet underfoot.
What do you remember from your childhood? What sparks your return to the child who still lurks inside?