“An Autumn to Remember,” Oct. 3, 2017

(Dear Readers: This column was written Sunday, Oct. 1, shortly before the horrific massacre that took place on the Las Vegas Strip. I was deeply touched by all of you who wrote to check on me and my family. We are fine, thank you, and you are the best. Please pray for the victims and their families. _ Sharon)

This morning I opened the patio door and grinned like a mule eating briars. The mountains were shining in the west. The jack rabbits had left us a little of the lawn. And the thermometer on the patio registered a balmy 65 degrees.

That’s the same thermometer that only days ago could climb to 115 or more, a condition also known as “slightly hotter than the hinges on the gates of hell.”

We live in the desert outside Las Vegas. Summer is a neon inferno. But autumn can make you think you’re in heaven.

Readers often write to tell me about fall in their parts of the world. It always reminds me of the autumns I knew growing up in the Carolinas.

Once, when I wrote about how I missed seeing fall colors, a woman back East sent me a box of gorgeous red and gold leaves she’d gathered from her yard.

I wish you could’ve seen them. They were almost as lovely as the kind soul who sent them.

But even in the desert, where color is scarce, fall is my favorite season, if only for the memories it brings to mind. For example:

_ When I was 5, I went out to play after days of rain. As the clouds parted, the sun lit up the mountain and I saw for the first time a blaze of fall colors. I ran inside to tell my grandmother the mountain was on fire.

_ On Halloween, when I was 10, I made tacky costumes and took my brothers trick-or-treating. I was a princess with a tin-foil crown. Denton was 4. I gave him a banana and told him to act like a monkey. Joe was 6 and had been blind all his life. I threw a sheet over his head but forgot to tell him why. At the first house, a neighbor lady patted Joe’s head and said, “You’re a cute little ghost!” And Joe shouted through the sheet, “I ain’t a ghost! I’m a mattress!”

_ My happiest fall memory is the October my daughter was born. We lived on the coast of California, an easy walk to the beach. Summer fog had given way to autumn’s glory. On my due date I made a deal with a friend. We each had a 3 year old. They thought they were brothers. We agreed to take them to the beach every day until I went into labor. A few days at most, right?

Three weeks later, when at last I gave birth, my tan was the envy of every woman in the maternity ward. And my baby girl was perfect. She still is. Six autumns ago, she gave birth to my grandson, Henry.

_ The September before my first husband lost his 4-year-battle with cancer, he wanted to go to Yellowstone. He could barely walk. But we flew to Wyoming and rode horses in the foothills of the Tetons, surrounded by snow-capped mountains, gold-leafed aspens and herds of bored-looking buffaloes. I never saw him look happier.

_ After years as a widow, I remarried and moved with my new husband to the desert. Our first Halloween in our new home, I put a pumpkin on the fence, bought a lot of candy and waited for the doorbell to ring. It didn’t. We had zero trick-or-treaters. So we went out back, watched the moon climb over the mountain and ate all the candy. Who knew Halloween could be so much fun?

I could fill a book with fall memories. I bet you could, too. Mine include Butterfly Parades when my children wore wings to march in the street and welcome the monarchs back to town.

Thanksgivings with family, friends, leftovers and so many reasons to count my blessings.

Halloweens where no trick or treaters ever come to our door and we get to eat all the candy.

Those and other memories drift across my mind like falling leaves dancing on the wind.

But the best autumn is never in memory. It’s always the one that’s right outside our door, and how we choose to live it.

I put a pumpkin on the fence by our front gate. You never know what might come of it.

Here’s wishing you and yours and all of us together, the best autumn of our lives — so far.


  1. Kate Sciacca says

    Cannot stop praying for the folks at that concert…. a friend who teaches at a school in Vegas knows several who were there and one who is in critical condition…

    Fall in the north state is coming into full bloom… trees catching fire overnight and temps dipping into the low 30’s… LOVE IT! Unlike your neighborhood, we go through three “Costco bags” of candy every Halloween – ours is considered a “prime neighborhood ” ?

    And October is “all baseball all the time” – doesn’t get any better than that!

    If this tragedy teaches us anything it is this – be grateful for every beautiful day, we never know “the day or the hour…”

    • Sharon Randall says

      Amen, and again, I say, amen. I envy you, my friend.
      Grace and peace, as always,

    • Thank you for all you wrote about counting our blessings. Many times I put off the light just to avoid all who ring the bell. Because I felt so tired after 9 hour job. But many times I did not because these smiling kids made me laugh. Yes,when weather was cold they did not come and we ate all candies. We had to but now I buy very few good one and kids pick more than one when I tell them. I love autumn. This is such a beautiful season!! God bless you !! I eagerly wait your next column. Thank you so much.

  2. Betty McNall says

    Idaho cooled off! We lit the wood stove this evening, nd now it’s to arm in here! Leaves and needles have turned! I’ll be glad when spring is here again as I’m 77 and my 83 yr old husband has Heath problems, so good weather helps him. Love your columns !

  3. Chrysti Love says

    You can have the tree leaves! Our cotton fields are taking the purple cast of fall. The cotton bolls are popping out white, getting ready for harvest. As farmers, this time means harvest and financial income. What a great life. Blessings to all.

  4. Thankful to hear you and your family are well. I thought of you when I first heard of the shooting, but didn’t have time to see if you had posted on your website. Praying for the families and lives this shooting has affected. God help them all!

    I enjoy Fall ‘s cooler temperatures too. Although here in Indiana we haven’t experienced much of it yet. Also, love the beautiful changes in the colors. I’m glad to live in a place where the seasons really change the landscape around us.


  5. The air n SC is becoming cooler. You can feel it is the slightest breeze. Maybe it’s the low humidity. Anyway it’s nice to sit on my screened in porch & see the small color changes in the dogwood. Our cats, Lucy & Ricky, have the best life. They think they have HD TV. I’m not going to tell them anything different!

    Fall is wonderful wherever you are. It shows that you are alive to see God’s next burst of color!

    Happy Fall!

  6. Elaine mccaffery says

    I love aurumn, the changing colors of the leaves in all their beauty. I try not to think about the months ahead. I’m not one to like the snow and cold. But for now I’m going to bask in the fall weather, and with my birthday drawing near thankful for what I have.

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