Mark paused from his work and lifted his head to sniff the air appreciatively. Even from where he was in the field he could smell the fresh baked apple pies. Sarah had been busy this morning and he knew he would be in for a treat at lunchtime.
He sighed as he remembered their families’ reaction to their announcement that they were packing up and moving from the big smoke to the small country town of Theoma, two years previously. Of course, in hindsight, Mark realised they could probably have picked a better time to tell them than the annual family picnic. What started out as a beautiful autumn day, quickly turned into one of shock, pleadings and then ice-cold anger.
“You’re not thinking straight,” Sarah’s father had said angrily. “You want to take my daughter and grandchildren to some tin pot hole in the ground, miles from nowhere, with some harebrained idea of farming.”
Sarah immediately jumped to Mark’s defence. “Dad, we’re thought this through very carefully. We believe it is the best decision for us right now.”
“Farming!” her father had bellowed at Mark, as if Sarah had never spoken. “What do you know about farming?
“Sarah, darling,” her mother had pleaded, “You’re not cut out to be a farmer’s wife. What about your degree? Surely you wouldn’t give that up?”
In an effort to calm the situation, Mark’s parents had suggested that he and Sarah go there for a holiday – just for a couple of months – before making any final decision. But Mark and Sarah were adamant; they were going and that was final.
Mark had built up some serious muscle and strength in the past two years from working in his own field and helping their neighbours in theirs. It felt as though they had been here for much longer than two years. Their families back in the city had finally accepted that Mark and Sarah had been right. Sarah’s father had even bought them a new generator as his way of showing his approval of their life style change.
The children had blossomed and grown like weeds in the pollution-free environment, and Caleb had not had a reoccurrence of the asthma that had plagued him in the humidity of the city.
“Daddy, look, look!” Seven year old Ally’s excited voice brought him back to the present. She was running across the freshly ploughed field trailing a kite behind her. It lifted momentarily only to fall back to earth.
“Way to go Ally, be careful you don’t take off.” Mark grinned at his daughter’s exuberance. She didn’t seem to mind that the kite wasn’t climbing skyward like a kite should, but in another week, that would change. It was autumn, and the autumn winds would soon pick up and then both Ally and her ten-year-old brother Caleb would be able to fly their kites properly.
Autumn meant work for everyone, but it was Sarah’s favourite season. It saw her baking, preserving, and preparing the kitchen garden beds for next spring by growing legumes to replace the nitrogen in the soil. It was also the time to pull out the wonderfully thick crocheted blankets given to them as welcome gifts from the Country Women’s Association when they first arrived in Theoma.
The onset of autumn caused a flurry of activity everywhere in Theoma. Everyone worked longer hours as the days grew shorter. No one could afford to be unprepared when winter arrived. But even with the added work, Mark and Sarah told the children that autumn never came without bearing gifts.
“Gifts? What gifts?” Caleb asked as they sat on the porch one night after supper.
“Oh lots of things,” his mother replied with a smile, “crispy apples for one thing and we all know how much you and Daddy like apple pie.”
“Leaves!” squealed Ally in delight. “Autumn brings leaves on the ground. Big crunch leaves that we can kick and jump on.
Caleb grinned. “And wind. I love the wind whistling through the roof at night.”
Ally jumped up and down. “Our kites, when it gets windier, they’ll really be able to fly high, high up in the sky.”
Mark and Sarah smiled at one another over the heads of their excited children. Each season brought its own joys and hardships, but right now it was autumn, and that meant leaves, and kites, and rosy cheeked children running wild for one glorious few weeks.
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