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As I was driving my wife to work this morning we noticed the corn fields in the area (and there are many) are starting to shift from green to brown.  This is, for me, always a sign that Autumn is knocking on our door.  Seeing that corn swaying in the breeze started the wheels of memory going a bit.

I’ve moved around quite a bit over the course of my life.  In fact, by the time I had graduated from high school I had attended seven different schools in five states.  One thing that remained fairly consistent from place to place, however, was the fact that we lived in suburban areas, sometimes even bordering on rural.

Many of those formative years were spent living in the Northwest suburbs of Chicago.  We actually lived in the area twice, once when I was still in elementary school and returning my sophomore year in high school.  One thing you see frequently in suburban Illinois is corn.  In fact, my blessed alma mater, Harry D. Jacobs High School, was situated in the middle of a convergence of corn fields and cow pastures.  (I say “was” because I understand that development has struck and most of the corn and pastures are gone.)

Autumn was always tied into that corn.  Whether it was the sound of the wind making the stalks rasp against one another or the decorations at Halloween and Thanksgiving that always included corn stalks and Indian corn, it was an omnipresent component of Autumn in the Midwest.

Since moving here to Pennsylvania I have found that such things are not unique to the Midwest.  I suppose any area that has a large agricultural community will have a certain reverence for one of the staples of life on this continent, one that has roots that predate European settlement by a large margin.  Fields of corn swaying in the breeze somehow seems like an iconic image that is purely American in origin despite the fact that corn is certainly grown elsewhere as well.

Autumn is a season of memories.  Halloween let’s us all recall our childhood and even be kids again should be wish.  Thanksgiving brings us back together when we have been apart and reminds us to be grateful for all we have.  Everyone has memories of pumpkins and turkeys, leaves and apples.  And for many of us, the sight of that corn browning is a sign that Autumn has returned wrap us up in those memories again and snuggle.

It brings a smile to my face because, somehow, the bad memories always blow away of the crisp winds while the good ones glow in my heart like jack-o-lanterns or Thanksgiving candles.

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