Fall follies and favorites


Mt. Pleasant News

Ah, autumn, don?t you love it?

Yes I do, but I would love it much more if it didn?t make me think about the season which follows.

Fall hasn?t received its fair shake from me in years and may never again.

Many falls, I wish I could really appreciate the season. I enjoy the cool, crisp air following a hot summer. I love to photograph the see the fall foliage. The transformation of leaves from a summer green to red, orange, yellow, brown cannot be beaten.

It is a tough call which season ? fall or winter ? I prefer more. Spring has its beauty with the tulips, the greening of the grass and the leafing of the trees. An awakening ? from a deep, often long winter.

Since I have difficult picking one or the other seasons, I do a copout and term summer my favorite season.

But let?s journey back to fall for a while.

Another reason I like fall is football season. Much like spring is a rebirth, so is football. It is the first sport of the season and brings with it a lot of enthusiasm. Back in another life when I had University of Iowa season football tickets, I thought a fall afternoon at Kinnick Stadium was about as close to a slice of heaven as there was on earth.

Another of my fall favorites is the smell of burning leaves. I know many people (namely those with respiratory problems) cringe at the thought of burning leaves, I love the smell. I don?t have to or want to be next to the piles but a fall walk spiced with the fragrance of burning leaves will do me fine.

During about three decades of covering sports, reporting on football was about as good as it gets. Checking the Iowa high school rankings the other day, I saw that Newell-Fonda was top ranked in eight-man football.

That brought back some memories because every Sunday night for nine years during the football season, I would have a Sunday night conversation with Brian Wilken, coach of the N-F Mustangs.

Wilken, who is either president or past-president of the Iowa High School Football Coaches Association, was the most intense sideline coach I ever saw. He?s a pacer; no, not one of these pacers who paces at about five-yard intervals. He was good for 10-20-yard intervals.

I wish he had worn one of those pedometers or whatever they call it that people wear to measure distance because I know he would put on a mile or two every game pacing the sidelines.

Not only was he a pacer, he was one of those in-your-face types of coaches. I remember many an animated conversation he had up close and personal with one of his gridders.

He was a heart attack or stroke waiting to happen. I told his wife as much on more than one occasion. She agreed. He didn?t change and doubt he ever will.

During my sports days, I worked with a lot of coaches, but football coaches were always a different breed. Why? Don?t know. Seemingly, a football coach had his ?game face? on when he arrived at school on Friday mornings.

It was common knowledge at Pocahontas Area High School that you didn?t talk to the football coach on Fridays during the season unless it was extremely urgent.

Most of these football coaches, however, were very personable and friendly guys on other days and during any time of the year other than football season. Why? I don?t have the answer. Perhaps it was the intensity of the sport or maybe it was the ?macho? thing.

Or maybe it was just another rite of autumn.