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Well, we have had early Winter already, with cold temperatures and a bit of sleet. Now for a couple of days, Mother Nature has seemingly remembered that she had been in a hurry and got Winter ahead of Fall.

I can consider the weather comfortable if it is above 50 degrees. That's shirt-sleeve weather or light jacket weather.

Although Fall never seems to last as long as I would like, it does appear that we will have a bit more Fall weather before the Winter gets serious.

How quickly time gets away, especially the Fall season. Fall is my favorite season. It may be my favorite because I am in the Fall season of life. I think when you are 79, it is the Fall season of your life. I'm putting off Winter as long as possible. How quickly time got away in September and October this year. We actually had a beautiful season of color in the trees and woodlands. I can't remember a more colorful and beautiful season. But it passed like a flash. The reds and yellows and oranges and shades of purple were on for such a short time, and before we knew it the leaves were on the ground and everything was brown. I do notice that I have some hardy wild onions coming up in our front lawn.

Over some 40 years, from 1962 to 2002, we lived in other parts of the country, first in central Arkansas, then in Kansas City, Mo., than southern Iowa, back to central and west Arkansas, and finally in east Arkansas. It just happened that many of the communities where we lived, especially in east Arkansas, were grain and cotton producing areas. In a way, that kept us in touch with seasonal farming activities that we no longer see much of in northwest Arkansas. The grain harvest, or the cotton harvest, is an earnest part of the later season of the year. For farmers whose livelihood depends on that harvest, September to November is a crucial time of year.

Back in the days when the Pea Ridge area was basically a farming community, we had more general farming, where, as we said, we grew a little bit of everything and not too much of anything.

Our area farms were at one time subsistence ways of life. We produced on the farm most of the things we needed to live (with some notable exceptions of course). Today, much of our agriculture centers around livestock and poultry, whereas in past years we had apple orchards, peach orchards, corn fields, patches of oats, hay crops, truck patches producing tomatoes, beans or strawberries, large gardens with a great variety of vegetables, fruits and flowers. The beginnings of cold weather was often referred to as hog-killing weather, because that was when the fat hogs were butchered, the lard was rendered, and the meats were prepared for winter preservation and use.

One of the earliest work tasks that I recall getting in on on the farm was picking corn. This was in the 1940s, shortly after the end of World War II. For us, it was still the time of picking corn by hand. We knew that especially in the corn country of Iowa the farmers were getting corn pickers that mounted on a tractor, but our method was still to go to the cornfield with a horse-drawn wagon with a grain bed on it, and to walk the rows, picking the ears of corn by hand and pitching them into the wagon. My Dad and my Grandpa Scott Nichols would work together, with Dad taking two rows on the right side of the wagon, and Granddad taking the two rows on the left side. Guess who got to pick the "down row?" I was assigned to pick the ears from the row that the wagon passed over. It was known as the "down row" for rather obvious reasons.

So, I had one row to pick, and Dad and Grandpa had two each, but I had a hard time keeping up with them. First, they were fast pickers. Second, I had to pick up my stalks, grab the ear and toss it into the wagon, so my excuse for being slow was that the "down row" gave you more to do.

The ears were not at the convenient height, you had to bend over and straighten up with every ear, and after you did that for what seemed like 40 thousand times you hollered for a rest stop! I always liked to prove that I was big enough to do stuff on the farm, so I worked hard at picking the "down row," but although I have fond memories of the corn harvest, picking the "down row" was not necessarily my favorite part of the job.

•••

Editor's note: Jerry Nichols, a native of Pea Ridge and an award-winning columnist, is vice president of Pea Ridge Historical Society. He can be contacted by e-mail at joe369@centurytel.net, or call 621-1621.

Editorial on 11/20/2019

Print Headline: I think Fall is coming back!

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