It’s autumn in New England, my favorite time of year. My son’s high school had a tradition that every fall on one of the most beautiful bright and sunny autumn days, whenever it occurred, classes were canceled. The whole student body made a pilgrimage walking through the adjacent land trust and country roads to the neighboring town to visit the grave site of the schools founder. I always thought what a great lesson to teach kids. To celebrate the founding of the school by enjoying a beautiful day and taking time in their busy lives to enjoy and appreciate the beauty that surrounds them. Since moving near us, every fall I take my mother-in-law on our own pilgrimage of sorts. We take a drive on back country roads to enjoy the fall foliage and the rural beauty that is New England. Each year after a few minutes into our journey, my mother-in-law would comment how she and Papa would take a ride like this every year and how much they enjoyed it. Besides the brilliant colors of the trees and the doorsteps resplendent in pumpkins and brightly colored chrysanthemums, my mother-in-law enjoys stopping by a farm stand to buy apples freshly picked from the orchard or a homemade apple pie. Her real objective, however, is to engage the farmer or his wife in conversation. She will talk about the beauty of the day and of past years when times were simpler. At some point we will leave the car and walk along the Shepaug River captivated by the sound of the water dancing over the rocks and logs washed down by the spring storms. We are on the lookout for bittersweet, seedpods and hickory nuts. We often encounter a blue heron by the river’s edge or a red tailed hawk soaring in the bluest of skies with its distinctive call. My mother-in-law couldn’t make the walk this year but my wife and I took our camera and snapped pictures along the way which we shared with her over corn chowder at dinner. She looks forward to our annual sojourn. Whether it’s because she enjoys the beauty of autumn, marking the passing of another year, meeting new people or just refreshing old memories, our trip always brings her great pleasure. All those who are caregivers should consider taking the individuals in their care for ride through the country or an old neighborhood; visit a nature center, the arboretum, a botanical garden or even a park. The fond memories they foster are worth your effort.
-By Hello! Home Care Contributing writer Bill Mishico