By Andy Mitchell
If you took a survey to see which season is favored the most, I wouldn’t be surprised to find autumn – like a golden leaf – at the top of the heap. My wife, for one, prizes fall, in its natural brilliance, above trinkets and gems. It mattered far less to her what ring would symbolize our marriage than what time of year we would be wed. Since her favorite time of year is this time of year, and more importantly, since weddings are rightly the bride’s domain, we took our vows amid the pomp of homecomings, with their bonfires, parades and football games.
As a matter of fact we congregated at the Mitchell family headquarters on College Ave. the 17th of October, 1998, to watch the Illinois College (IC) parade, which at that time started just a half block away. Mom still marvels at how relaxed Jenn and I seemed the morning of our wedding day. And we really were relaxed. Neither of us had any misgivings about the “plunge” we were about to take. I was old enough to know I’d found the right one. And she was too young to know she had settled for someone far beneath her.
Later that night we ordered a pizza from our hotel room. Neither of us had had a bite to eat since donuts during the parade. Every year since, we have ordered pizza for our anniversary. Half pepperoni, half sausage – that’s Italian for yin-and-yang.
Maybe that’s why autumn is such a popular season. It’s a time when traditions tend to come to the fore. October’s abuzz with browning marshmallows, drum lines and color drives. Essentially November is trimmed to one marked day: Thanksgiving, when every tradition convenes, more-or-less happily, depending on your relatives. (That’s why it’s always good to serve plenty of wine with your festive meal, lest it not be so festive.)
Locally, Spoon River and Pike County vie for autumnal bragging rights. ‘Tis the season for leaf watching and flea markets. Meanwhile, nationally our great pastime (i.e. baseball) invariably culminates on the mighty Mississippi, in the shadow of the Gateway Arch (eluding more northern, ivy-grown climes). Sometimes I wish I could be a Cardinal fan. But, growing up, dad wouldn’t let us. Cheering for the Cards would’ve been tantamount to mutiny. And, now that I’m old enough to make my own decisions, it’s too late. Besides, I’m no fair weather fan. But I do wonder what it’s like to root for a winner. Must be nice. Who knows – as I write this, the Cubs are set to play the Pirates, the winner of which gets to have a go at the mighty Redbirds.
Autumn is the season to revel in traditions. In the case of the Cubs, it’s a tradition of losing. But, hey, it’s still a tradition (which may or may not have changed by the time you read this – doubtful). While the college seems determined to change the route each year, IC’s annual parade marches on, a true blue tradition. And, sure, we change the toppings from year to year. But Jenn and I always enjoy ordering pizza out on Oct. 17. Just like we did seventeen years ago.