I grew up in Michigan near the center of the mitten. This will resonate with other Michiganders while the rest of you will find it less than “handy” to locate your whereabouts on an article of clothing. The state motto was, If you seek a pleasant peninsula, look about you. None of us had heard of the Olympic Peninsula.
It was apple country. Each year a farm truck came to the school and gave every kid a big red delicious. My family would go to Wiard’s Orchard because Mom wanted Macintoshes, and Dad liked his cider with cinnamon. He told us cider was different from apple juice because the worms were ground up in it. I believed him. I believed Michigan was the Apple Capital. Can you imagine being so gullible?
Of course, back then I believed in ghosts on Halloween. Still do.
While trees bombarded you with dying maple leaves, Midwest meadows planned a tricky treat as well. On the path that was clear seconds before, an enormous ball might erupt from the ground. You performed fancy gymnastics not to step on it.
Giant Puffballs can rival watermelons in size but are white as ghosts. When brand new, they are edible (warning: know what you’re doing before consuming any fungus). A cooked puffball mushroom is rich and earthy like little ones, but sliced and fried it can serve a small herd.
They look scary, though. If you can’t get yourself to eat one, maybe you could use it to clot blood or prevent infection. A member of the Lakota tribe could show you how.
Every autumn, my Dad felt compelled to take part in a turkey shoot with the other guys from the shop. But he hated it. He managed to miss enough targets to come home without a bird. One year, they felt so sorry for him, the guys gave him a live turkey.
I remember him with it out back. Mom’s arms were flailing more than the bird’s wings, and she was certainly squawking louder. I was led to believe it was not welcome in the house and neither was Dad until it was on its way to the Big Bird Beyond.
I was instructed to go inside and not watch. If I had obeyed, I would not have been traumatized by it literally running around like a turkey with its head cut off.
After that, when Thanksgiving platters were passed, Dad pretty much preferred the sides to the main event.
Thanks to each of you for reading this column. I hope your autumn provides you many memories to resonate in your heart.
Linda B. Myers is the author of 10 novels, including Starting Over Far Away, available at Port Book and News, Pacific Mist, and Amazon. You can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.