Folks ’round these parts get pretty happy this time of year. Maybe a better word to sum up their emotions during this season would be relieved. After all, little things mean a lot.
God tilts the earth this time of year to give the earth dwellers on this side of the globe a vacation from the punishing sun. And with it comes the recounting of the changing seasons in our past.
A lot of sights and sounds from childhood that used to carry me back like a time machine have grown old, some memories forgotten. The one constant recounting I cherish is the one that I feel and smell then ride back in time like a space ship happens this time of year.
The desert feels like mild mountain air this time of year. It gets cold enough for the older homes to burn wood in their fireplaces. That coupled with the brisk dusk air find a young version of myself strolling home with my football uniform slung over my shoulder like a knapsack, drinking a soda.
The once-skinny kid always seemed to scrounge enough change for the cheap off brand grape soda from the vending machine just outside the locker room that smelled like perpetual sweat.
I sauntered, barefooted, relishing the still lukewarm sidewalk contrasting the crisp dusk breeze. I inhaled the cool air that was laced with the scent of burning firewood… the same one that still transports me back in time.
Only that younger version of my ears could have heard that puny little sound over the roar of the traffic speeding by on the street I’d just crossed. The same major thoroughfare I crossed at least twice a day under the shadow of the traffic sign that told us specifically not to cross there.
I stopped and listened. After a few seconds, I heard it again. I sunk to a deep squat, arms resting comfortably on my knees, peering under the bushes of a side street just off the intersection. If it would have been much darker I’d have missed the black little furball that was desperately screaming for help.
I don’t recall who taught me to make that quick kissing sound to call animals, but it still works like a
champ. The long haired, jet black kitten with the vibrant green eyes warily made his way over to me. I scratched behind his ears for a minute or so then pressed on toward home.
The black kitten followed me like my dog Pee-Wee used to a few short years before that. I picked the little guy up and noticed he didn’t have a collar and knew at his age living next to a main street he wouldn’t last but a day or two.
I’d long since grown up, left home, had my own pets and “Little Kitty” was still keeping my mom and dad company.
As the years pass, so do our pets, the seasons, and our loved ones. Each one is a gift. I’m reminded of that fact often… and every Fall and Spring when I smell the logs burning in the cool desert air… I remember the little things that point to big ones… I listen for that faint sound… and smile.