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Purple Asters Color Memories Of Fall

The smell of Fall is in the air! Crisp mornings, the leaves changing into luscious golden and auburn colors, and of course pumpkin everything.

This season used to be my mama’s favorite season. She belonged to a garden club until she adopted my sister and I. It was then that she devoted her entire life, beginning at 61, to us. Her love of the garden remained with countless flowers in borders and beds around our old farmhouse.

My sister was more of an indoors person, but I loved weeding and tending to the flowers as my mom had terrible allergies and really couldn’t do it anymore.

There were lilies of the valley, day lilies, daisies, peonies, sweet peas, holly hocks, dahlias, tulips, daffodils, geraniums, cosmos, iris, and so many others that I could mention. Ninetynine percent were perennials, so year after year, it was repeated color that adorned our farm.

Every Memorial Day, our bed of peonies came into full-bloom. We would fill the back of our station wagon with small cans that were covered with shiny tin foil and filled with various colors of those fluffy flowers. We then headed out to our country cemetery and place two or three bouquets on each of our loved one’s grave. We always had plenty to spread throughout the cemetery and put them on neglected gravestones.

Those were the spring flowers, but it’s Fall and my favorite flowers that I remember were the purple asters right outside our kitchen screen door on the side of our cellar.

Cellar. That’s a word I really don’t hear anymore. We had canned jars down there, but mostly potatoes in a large wooden bin. Our cellar had dirt walls, was damp and had musty smell. Spiders were always my nemesis on the farm and as I gingerly walked down the stairs to get a potato or two for mama, I couldn’t wait to pull the cord on the little light bulb to light up the darkness and spot spiders before running smack dab into one nestled in an intricately designed web.

Seeing those clusters of purple asters by the cellar represented Fall. When those flowers bloomed, I knew the hunters would soon be coming in and hunting our land for pheasants. I knew that Halloween would soon be here and as a girl, Halloween was one of my favorite holidays.

My mama was a seamstress. She made all of our clothes and much to my chagrin, she always dressed my sister and I, alike. Even our play clothes were the same. She even made bed bonnets that matched our matching pajamas.

My sister came for a visit last summer to Dickinson and we went to the Medora musical together. To commemorate our enjoyable time, we bought matching t-shirts for old time’s sake. Wouldn’t you know, when we returned back to the family, our kids all razzed us about still wearing the same stuff. Oh well…

Those purple asters are forever stuck in my mind as a sign of pumpkins being carved and fall festivals taking place at a nearby grade school or pumpkins patch.

Pumpkin patches are really the kick-off to the fall season and a good old fashioned corn maze doesn’t hurt either.

Moving as much as we did, our family was able to attend a lot of different kinds of Fall Festivals. Let’s face it, not all Fall weather is the same in different parts of the country. Fall is not the same in Southern California as it is in Iowa.

When we lived in the west coast region, we were able to go to the Pumpkin Patch put on by the the Roloff Farms outside of Portland, OR. Their television series on TLC called ‘Little People, Big World’ is what spurred us to check it out. We got the opportunity to take our grandson who was 1 and that made the festivity even more fun.

The wagon tour that took us to familiar sights that we had seen on tv was interesting. Why do things look different on tv? The gift barn, the smell of kettle popcorn, the thousands of pumpkins to choose from, the petting zoo, the climbable haystacks, pony rides, and food shack treats, etc. sent us home with an accomplished feeling that we had initiated Fall with everything humanly possible.

But one Fall event, we will never forget. It was 9-11 and we were visiting our daughter who lives in NY. It was 9 years after the Twin Towers had tragically fallen by enemy hands. Every year, the City of NY holds a Memorial for the people who died.

It was an honor to be able to attend this Memorial and I would highly suggest that if you ever have the chance to be in NY at this time in the Fall, to go and partake in the observance of this solemn time of our nation’s history. We stood with others as the names of the 2,983 victims in the 2001 and 1993 attacks at the Twin Towers were read, as well as those who perished in the Pentagon and on Flight 93 in Pennsylvania.

It was then in 2010, that they were building the Freedom Tower and just this last year in 2016, we were able to go to the top of the Freedom Tower and all go through the 9-11 Memorial and Museum. The color purple is a rare occurring color in nature and as a result is often seen as having a sacred meaning. So those purple asters outside my childhood farmhouse screen door, remind me of traditional fall festivities with pumpkin everything and now of a Fall event that we shall never forget.