I just polished off a bowl of vegetable soup with a side of rye bread. As I popped the last bit of crust into my mouth, I had a flashback to Vilnius, Lithuania, where I was privileged to travel for two autumns in a row. There is nothing in the world like Lithuanian dark rye bread. I had some form of rye at every meal, and firmly associate it with crisp, autumn air.
Even though autumn has been my favorite season for as long as I can remember, it has always held a sense of melancholy for me. The September I was 5, my mom had an auto accident. My aunt came to my kindergarten classroom to let the teacher know I should walk to grandma’s house after school. We nearly lost mom and my little sister. Their road to recovery was long and difficult. I imagine that is where the melancholy started.
The autumn I was 14, my dad had an extended hospital stay. One late afternoon, I had the kitchen windows open while washing dishes. The Tennessee autumn breeze brushed across my cheek and my hands felt slightly chilled each time I raised a dish from the soapy water. Stevie Wonder’s “I Just Called to Say I Love You,” had hit the airwaves a couple months prior, and when it began to play, I dripped suds across the counter top in my hurry to crank up the volume on the old, black radio. I closed my eyes and listened. And cried. And prayed hard for my dad. I just wanted him to be safely at home. To this day, I can’t hear the song without thinking of him and that long ago afternoon.
When I was 19, I went back to Tennessee for college. I was in my favorite place in all the world, but I was homesick for my family and the boy I had started dating back in Indiana. I began pining, and was determined that I would spend every fall season thereafter with the people I love.
It hasn’t always worked out that way. Twenty-five years later, I lived in Indiana and pined for a boy in Tennessee. But in between, I made countless memories at homeschool events, family bonfires, and wiener roasts. I wore thick sweaters to apple orchards, festivals and hay rides. I made amazing memories while staying in Germany for several autumns, annually attending Oktoberfest, and traveling to Lithuania, Latvia, and other countries with crisp fall seasons.
So many memories and emotions evoked by that bite of rye I took (10 minutes ago now). A single crust of bread transported me from Vilnius to kindergarten to Chattanooga, to Berlin, and back home again here in Indiana. Indiana . . . where the coming autumn promises melancholy and apple pie and crisp, cool breezes blowing through the kitchen window while I dance and talk and laugh with the ones I love.

Syndicated columnist Ginger Claremohr is an author, public speaker, and mother of five. To read more of her work, or to book a speaking engagement, follow her on Facebook, find her on the web: www.claremohr.com, or contact ginger@claremohr.com.