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I am enjoying the Fall season.

A few days ago we were visiting with friends over lunch, and we were talking about when would be the best time to take a fall colors drive around the community. We observed that many trees, especially the maples, are in full color even now; some in bright reds, some in varying hues of yellow and orange, some in combinations of red or purple over green. We also observed, that outside, even as we were speaking, the leaves were steadily falling, and the ground was already almost covered with them.

I suggested that maybe now would be the time to do our Fall colors tour, since the colorful leaves may soon be falling from the trees. So that's what we did on Sunday afternoon. We made two loops, one taking Hayden Road north to Missouri, KK Highway to Missouri Highway 90, then west to Jane, Mo., and back to Pea Ridge via Bella Vista, Hampstead Road and Lancashire/Hwy. 344 back to our Arkansas Highway 94.

Then, still looking to see more scenery, we took off east on Arkansas Hwy. 72, taking Twelve Corners Road and Gann Ridge Road, and around through Garfield on the way home. Of course it was convenient to stop at the Short Stop in Garfield for ice cream. That's where the wee-sized ice cream cone is good sized. Small is big, medium is huge and large is gargantuan!

I really enjoy these maple trees that have the outer leaves turning purple or red while the inner leaves remain green for awhile longer. My neighbor has one of those, and I try from time to time to trade trees with him. We have our own maple trees, but they turns shades of yellow rather than doing the more brilliant colors like reds and oranges. I like the yellows, too, but pale yellows are no match for the vivid reds that some of the trees show out with. I notice that along the fence rows on the farms we often have sassafras bushes and sumac. The sumac normally displays in vivid red, whereas the sassafras leaves turn a mottled combination of yellow, orange and brown. As we sometimes say, the Lord's palette of Fall colors has all kinds of hues and shades. On our Sunday drive, we also enjoyed just seeing the hills in the distance with their various carpet patterns of colors and shades.

We have not made plans for the drive south this year, but through the years I have enjoyed driving through the city of Mountainburg on Old Hwy. 71. In the Fall season, Mountainburg's main drag is lined with some of the most brilliant red and orange maples that I have seen anywhere. We probably won't make it down there this season, but I would encourage anyone interested in Fall scenery to take the scenic route off of Interstate 49, taking the old Hwy. 71 through Mountainburg.

People sometimes refer to our later years of life as the autumn season of life. I sometimes have not been sure that I like that thought, since it puts me in that season. Since we turned 80 in January this year, the thought has occurred to me that we might get old one of these days. But since there are good things about the Fall season, I am encouraged to think that there are also good things about getting older. I remember thinking when I was 10 years old that if I could live to be 60 I could see the turn of the century. Well, I made it to 60 some time ago, and the turn of the century now seems a long time ago.

How strange how time when you think ahead 50 years seems like a long, long time, but then when you look back on the past 50 years it feels like the time just flew by. Gee, ain't it funny how time slips away!

One of the good things abut the autumn season of life is that we didn't die young. Another, comparing to the fall colors, is that we get to appreciate the different seasons of life, those that have been happy and satisfying, but even those that have been kind of cold and tough, or that have presented some overheating stress. Yet another good thing compares to the harvest season on the farms. Harvest is a time to appreciate the bounty of the earth and the blessings we have experienced. I was always glad when we had brought in that last cutting of hay, or when the corn crop was settled in the crib, or when we had canned all the garden goodies, or when the meats for winter were all curing and preserving. There is even a certain satisfaction in mowing the lawn for the last time for this year. Then, last but not least, living into the Autumn season of life lets us get to enjoy our grandchildren and maybe the great-grandchildren, too. We thoroughly enjoy being Grandma and Papa as well as being Dad and Mom.

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Editor's note: This column was originally published Feb. 20, 2008. Jerry Nichols, a native of Pea Ridge, is an award-winning columnist, a retired Methodist minister with a passion for history. He is vice president of the Pea Ridge Historical Society. He can be contacted by e-mail at [email protected] centurytel.net , or call 621-1621.

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