When I was 16 years old, I was asked to sing in a quartet, for a church music festival. The invitation came from a musician friend.

My friend chose a song entitled “Autumn Leaves.”

I was somewhat intimidated, yet flattered to be asked to sing.

For those who have never heard “Autumn Leaves,” these are the lyrics.

The falling leaves drift by the window

The autumn leaves of red and gold

I see your lips, the summer kisses

The sun-burned hands I used to hold

 

Since you went away the days grow long

And soon I’ll hear old winter’s song

But I miss you most of all my darling

When autumn leaves start to fall.

 

My inspiration for this walk down memory lane is the art show in my back yard. I have the most gorgeous red and gold trees, trees which were mostly green a week ago.

I believe the color changes are finally on time this year, the third week of October. I wonder if it is because of the cold evenings and dramatic temperature drops.

Maybe it is the arrival of Jack Frost that has caused the leaves to change colors.

For those who don’t know, this is why, and how, leaves change occurs.

Every bud on a tree is the beginning of a new leaf. The sun warms the bud, and the new leaf begins to grow. Each leaf is like a tiny food factory. The leaf uses sunlight, things in the air, water and a green matter called chlorophyll.

The green chlorophyll covers up the other colors in the leaf. As a result, we only see a green leaf.

When fall begins, the leaf starts to die. There is less sunlight because the days are shorter.

When the leaf begins to die, the leaf no longer makes food. The chlorophyll breaks down, the green color begins to disappear, and all the hidden colors – reds, yellows, oranges and browns – can be seen.

This is a second grade description, which is sufficient for me.

As a mom, when I think of fall leaves, I think of my children.

Each one of my kindergarteners brought home leaves, pressed in wax paper.

I can still remember a second grade daughter bringing me a bouquet of colored leaves.

One seventh grade son did not like raking the leaves. He complained, endlessly.

Then, an hour later, after raking the leaves, he was jumping into the pile of raked leaves, scattering them across the backyard.

Years ago, I recall driving the kids to the mountains in Arizona, to see the trees change colors. Those tall trees along with the scenic mountain drive were breathtaking.

Yes, leaves bring back fall memories, school days, and my kids.

I do miss the kids in their hooded jackets, holding the front door open, to yell for a sibling to come outside to play.

Meanwhile, autumn leaves blew across the living room carpet . . . ah, such sweet memories

The song lyrics are correct. Although, I might change a few words, just a little, because I miss my children.

 

“Since they went away the days grow long

And soon I’ll hear old winter’s song,

But I miss them most of all, my darlings

When autumn leaves start to fall.”

 

Diane Mack is coordinator of Putting Families First, Jackson County's Family Week Foundation. Email her at Director@jacksoncountyfamilyweek.org.