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Joan Knows: Though leaves are mostly green, fall is all around

Even though the leaves are mostly still green, there are signs of fall everywhere.

The first reminder came in the form of an email from “Curly” Burr.

Bringing an immediate smile, the screen revealed a reprint of the classic “Injun Summer,” which appeared in the Chicago Tribune for decades. 

John T. McCutcheon, an editorial cartoonist, first contributed the illustration and narrative in 1907 and from 1912 until 1992 it was featured each October, falling to pressure that it defamed Native Americans.

What brought my smile was the recollection of encountering the picture and the tale at the knee of Grandpa A who, like the narrative that featured a grandfather’s teaching, put his own touch to the images of this season.

We were on his porch, in view of the chestnuts falling from the tree and chatting about the wisdom of the squirrels to prepare for winter. Grandma A waited until he was finished to urge that he get out to rake the leaves. Note: He soon departed for his annual retreat to Florida.

Correspondent Burr next alerted us to the joys of the countryside at this time of the year, particularly in the hills and woods.

My knowledge of such woods dates back to the days when Mother Florence grabbed her knife and basket and went into the woods for wild mushrooms.

A classic story remains even today. Hoping to break in “Tweet” Weber, our bartender, as her rookie assistant, they climbed over a fence to the private woods of a local farmer.  Things were going well until Mom saw a bull approaching them from the nearby farmyard. She whispered to “Tweet,” now elevated to protector, “What should we do?”

He replied, “Don’t know about you, but I am going to bend over and eat grass!”

Jan Ellis, my most prodigious mailer of things of interest and humor and a ’56 buddy, sent along a series of clever yet grotesque carved pumpkins. 

Professor Van Thournout, also from our high school class, replied to the forwarded images with the observation that he recognized a few but discreetly did not mention any names.

This weekend, there’s the Scarecrow Festival all over town and the start of “Scaregrounds,” created by Steel Beam Theatre out at the fairgrounds.

In my mind I have created a scarecrow – a guy in a suit with a nametag that says “Washington Politician.” These guys are really scary!

Finally, two bits of information from one of the granddaughters.

First, she reports too much uncontrolled uproar from rowdy kids in her classroom.  Then she reports her choice of Halloween costume – a policewoman.

Wonder if there is any connection?

Here’s hoping there are well-behaved superheroes in the mix, too. Appears she might need some back-up?

• Joan Arteberry is a longtime resident of St. Charles. Her columns are featured in the Kane County Chronicle’s Neighbors section every other Friday. Write to her at

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