Fall is, to me, the happiest time of the year.

Yes, it is true spring is a promise of renewal, but fall awakens my heart to sing, to be glad, to raise my arms in the air and call out to the birds. It is true I just had a birthday (which really only makes me one day older); however, as I look back at all the blessings I have received in my life, I know they are too numerous to count.

I have to put at the top the loving home in which I grew up. There I learned to love God, to be kind and respectful to others, to love music and the written word, and to be grateful for what I had been given and would continue to receive throughout my life.

There is so very much to be grateful for in being an American in the greatest land on earth and for being free to worship and to speak our beliefs and to gather together. One example is the gathering for praise to our God sponsored by the Ellis County Ministerial Association this past Sunday. People of our many faith communities sang and prayed together and thanked God for the blessings the Festival of Faith has shared with us all.

As we left the festival on the beautiful fall day, I thought of my autumn days growing up, when nature seemed to sing out "What a Wonderful World!"

Each year, as the leaves turn glorious gold, burnished orange and a hint of burgundy, I am reminded of that earlier time when I grew up in the Great Depression. I know we were poor, but we did not know we were.

My mother always sewed our clothes, and each school year I remember having a new dress, plus whatever my sister had outgrown. Mother baked and canned and we never went hungry, though I do recall not getting to eat between meals. However, if we were hungry, we could have a slice of bread, and not butter, but that white margarine that had been colored. Ugh! But it worked to keep us waiting for the meal.

We always had a large garden in the summer and had our chores of weeding, gathering the vegetables and cleaning them for cooking. We were happy when the growing season was over and the garden cleaned out. Then we could dig in the dirt, create farms and roads -- whatever took our fancy.

That is, until it was time for canning peaches and pears. When we would get home from school, we would change our clothes as always, wash our hands, and then sit at the kitchen table. My sister and I had the job of peeling the fruit as Mother did the canning. With knife in hand and a pan for the pits and peels, we hurriedly would slip the skins off the hot blanched peaches.

I really liked doing the peaches because, unlike the pears, the peels came off lickety-split. The pears were much more difficult and we were not to take too much of the peel off. Occasionally, a piece of that wonderful western-slope peach or pear would find its way into my mouth. Yum!

Fall meant no more time to lie on my back on the cool grass and gaze at the clouds moving onward toward wherever they were going. It was as though I could have reached right up and pulled them down or made them into shapes of whatever I could imagine.

But summer was gone; school and other duties were upon me as I continued growing up. But I never could leave behind the wonders of my homelife as I grew to adulthood.

Autumn too quickly will hide its glow as winter appears, hopefully to shroud us within its snow folds. But memories will warm our hearts forever.

Ruth Moriarity is a member of the Generations advisory group.