Thursday, October 18, 2012

Autumn in Illinois

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When I enrolled in a college in Illinois, I was transported to a different world.  First, I noted the autumn rain and the humidity…ugh. What’s happened to my hairdo?  And trees, more trees, and rolling hills everywhere.  You couldn’t see more than a mile or two in any direction!  At least the campus was located high on the bluffs of the Mississippi River, and the scenery from that vantage point was most spectacular. So were the mosquitoes; they were unbelievably big! The locals said they had mountains to the south.   I knew mountains, and the Ozarks were NOT mountains,… at least not by Rocky Mountain standards.  The water tasted…umm…really different.  Yiicchh.  Did they truly get it out of the river?  September was hot and muggy, and the dorms had no air-conditioning. When was it going to cool off?  This was a different kind of environment alright, and I guess I never did fall in love with Illinois (even after 4 years), but there were some things about it I so appreciated.

I was treated to a beautiful array of colorful leaves like I had never seen before!   A walk along a path on the river bluff was worth the time away from studies.   And the old English architecture on campus was a wonderful lesson in building and history.  My dorm mates were from all over the United States, and they brought great diversity to our daily interactions.  One of our adventures in this “new world” was to continue the student tradition of an afternoon of apple-picking. So, off we went.   I had never seen such a huge orchard, ever!  

My friends and I started picking apples, putting them in a basket and moving on down the line, looking for some real beauties.  Near the end of our time in the orchard, one of my friends from Colorado decided to pick one of the apples and eat it.  Another friend from New York nearly  went into shock when she saw this happening! With wide eyes, she shouted,” You can’t eat that!!”  The rest of us looked at her with disbelief.  “Why?”  The re-headed New Yorker was absolutely sure you couldn’t just eat an apple off the tree!   In her world, evidently, apples come from a store, not a tree.  So, I guess that just wouldn’t be healthy…or something.  We laughed at this outburst and assured her it was FINE to eat an apple off the tree.  And several of us grabbed an apple to eat, just to prove our point…much to her horror!  

This is the same gal, who, back at the dorm,  insisted that we couldn’t cook up some popcorn in a saucepan on the stove!  Ahh,… yeah,  ya’ can!  Jiffy Pop was her only reference point …and she was AMAZED  that we could do it without all the fancy packaging.  

On cooler autumn evenings,  we laughed ourselves silly recounting these experiences…  all coping in a  different environment…


  1. Great memories. Do you still have contact with any of your college friends?

  2. I too went to college in the midwest, but not quite as far as Illinois (Ohio). I loved the fall, but Winters were a bear! Nice story of your memories.

  3. Nancy, I was shocked when we first moved to Washington to see people picking and eating wild blackberries. They grow like crazy around here, and are everywhere. However, we quickly caught on to the habit! I remember one time Greg and my dad were here visiting, and Greg just wouldn't eat them. I guess he figured they weren't clean or something, just growing by the side of the road. Maybe he had a point, but it sure was fun.

    1. LOL. Good to know you have had a very similar experience! I bet those blackberries were delicious.