Darrell Huckaby - Praise the Lord and pass me a pomegranate

OK. Now it is officially fall. My father-in-law has built the first of many fires in his fireplace. Never mind the calendar. Until Benny Potts builds a fire, it is not the fall of the year yet.

Here are 20 things I like best about fall - in no particular order, I might add.

I like that first cold afternoon. The one when the temperature drops in the middle of the day and it is colder when you go home in the afternoon than when you left the house that morning.

I like falling back. You know. When we change the clocks. We have to spring forward in the spring and lose a whole hour's sleep, but we get to fall back in the fall and sleep sixty minutes extra. I like that.

I like it when we start getting Georgia mountain apples at the produce stand. Nothing against Washington state, understand, but there is just something special about knowing that the crisp, fresh apples I carry to school in my brown paper sack were grown in the red clay hills of the North Georgia Piedmont.

We get pomegranates in the fall, too. I used to have to visit my Mama Ellis in Social Circle to get fresh pomegranates, but when she died, my daddy rooted a tree in our back yard from hers. It was always a highlight of our year when those pomegranates started ripening. That tree really put out, too. (Insert your own joke here. I've been in enough trouble lately.)

I keep saying that I am going to plant a tree of my own but so far, all I've done is talk about it. Maybe this will be the year.

I like it when the leaves start changing colors. I used to believe that Jack Frost came in the middle of the night and painted them. Now I know better, but I still look forward to seeing the bright colors - as long as they stay on the trees. I don't like it when they fall off the trees because I have to rake them - or at least make excuses when company comes about why I haven't raked them yet.

Halloween comes in the fall and I like Halloween. Honesty compels me to admit that I liked it better when my kids were little and we got to make a big deal about costumes and trick-or-treat and such. We would always carve a jack-o-lantern, make Rice Krispies treats, and tell ghost stories. I still carve a jack-o-lantern, and make Rice Krispies treats, but I have to do it alone - and it's just not quite as much fun.

I like putting on a jacket to go outside and get the paper. Don't get me wrong. It's nice in the summer months to just roll out of bed, slide my feet into my flip-flops and head out the door, but I like it when a jacket starts feeling good, too. Breaks the monotony a little and heaven knows, when you've been married 26 years, there is more than enough monotony around. (See pomegranate reference above for clarity.)

I like the fall because football season is winding down and every game helps determine which teams are going to which bowls. Some games decide championships and that is exciting, even when my team is not involved - but more exciting when my team is.

I like the fall because citrus fruit starts coming up from Florida. Nothing against the folks in Chile but Chilean fruit just doesn't compare to what they grow along the Indian River.

I like fall because the elections are almost over. Can I get a witness?

I like fall because Christmas is just around the corner, and even though I complain about decorations in department stores before Halloween and Santa arriving in the mall before we've plucked the Thanksgiving turkey, much less carved it - who doesn't like Christmas?

And speaking of Thanksgiving, I like fall because of Thanksgiving, too. You can have your pumpkin pie. I can't wait to see the Rockettes in the Macy's Parade.

I like fall because it means I can start wearing baggy sweaters around all the time. Baggy sweaters do wonders for covering up how much weight I did not lose during my latest diet.

And I like fall because David Chandley gets all excited when he tells us about the temperature dropping below freezing for the first time. And when the temperature drops below freezing, my lovely wife, Lisa, lets me build a fire in our fireplace - which usually tends to help thaw her out a bit, too.

For the record - that's only 14 things - but I'm out of space. And for the record - the low last night was 32.

Praise the Lord and pass me a pomegranate.

Darrell Huckaby is a local author and educator. He can be reached at dHuck08@bellsouth.net.