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Autumn time to count blessings

Albany Herald Guest Columnist Loran Smith

Albany Herald Guest Columnist Loran Smith

For many of us the fall season begins as soon as we can wear long sleeves in the early morning hours, sometime after Labor Day, and lasts through Thanksgiving. Is there a better time of the year than the harvest season?

Fall means football, and we happily succumb to its allure — even though winners are laughing, high-fiving, imbibing, and rubbing it in while the scoreboard’s “less fortunates” are impatient and do their best to blog the coaches in the direction of the unemployment lines.

The fate of your favorite football team should not keep you from enjoying the harvest’s benefits. All across this great land, people are stacking corn stalks into teepee-style apexes, surrounded by a few bales of hay and a pumpkin or two — or three or four. The Midwest loves the harvest season. New England has equal if not greater affection for harvest time, just like the South does. They like pumpkins and Halloween accoutrements in California, the mountain states, Texas and Oklahoma.

Fall, which brings us Halloween and Thanksgiving, is the best time of the year — accented by the turning of the leaves and a fire at suppertime. Christmas, although wonderful, is too busy — too many folks trying to turn a dollar. The fall is when everybody should count blessings and enjoy the season’s humbling features, as you give gratitude the highest of priority.

Seeing little kids romping about a pumpkin patch and choosing a pumpkin for the front doorstep refreshes one’s inner self. Little children enjoying simple things, like dressing up for Halloween, is one of life’s richest rewards. Watching them playing their games, off to the side, while a high school football game is under way is the essence of sport — playing the game to have fun without letting winning and losing contaminate the good life.

This past week late one afternoon, I stood in the Chattahoochee, whipping a fly rod in the direction of Nora Mill dam, south of Helen. The trout had come out of hiding from summer’s heat a few weeks back. A long sleeve felt good on your arms as a gentle cast landed in a ripple of water and carried it down stream.

Suddenly, a three-pound rainbow, like a bar patron reaching for a drink, had been unable to resist the temptation of sucking down a multi-colored fly, made by Ron Thomas, a seasoned guide, who ties at least 500 flys a month. Now the fun begins. Mr. Rainbow wants to shuck what Mr. Thomas has fashioned. He almost spits it out, but patience and coaching from the genial Jimmy Harris brings Mr. Rainbow to the net. “I gotcha,” I sniffed with pride and accomplishment washing over me. Fly fishing has a cleansing effect on those who come here and become exposed to waters of the Chattahoochee.

October fishing is, perhaps, the most rewarding option that Georgians have. There are lakes and rivers and ponds and creeks to raise the spirits, but if you remit to a tax assessor in this great state and don’t fly fish on the Chattahoochee, you are shortchanging yourself. Narrow roads, bulging with tourists and visitors who want to “feel” the landscape and see the leaves at their illuminating finest, are a reminder that more often than not there are wonderful things to do in our lives — that are just beyond arm’s length. Hay in the fields is one of the most wonderful of recurring scenes. Someday I’d like to own a few acres, just to have my own hay bales for the harvest season.

Hay in those neat rolls, autumn leaves turning, a big rainbow trout trying to get the best of you! Just a few of the nice delights of the fall. The good news is that there are plenty for all of us.

Loran Smith is affiliated with the University of Georgia and can be reached via e-mail at loransmithathens@bellsouth.net.