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Talking it over: hayrides in the fall

Fall days make me think of beautiful foliage, cooler temperatures and fun on hay rides. That is because in my younger days, we always had hay rides in the fall. At least a couple times during the months of September and October, a hay ride was on the agenda for various group activities.

I believe there are still a few hay rides that are taken in the fall of the year and I envy those who get to participate. I remember having a lot of fun on the crisp, fall evenings snuggled into the warm bales of hay and if you were lucky, close to someone you liked.

Our church group planned a hay ride each fall and so did the 4-H club. However, we also had some private hay rides sponsored by friends who lived on the farm. Even after graduating, I attended a couple adult hayrides that topped most of the high school ones because you were invited as couples and spent the night close to someone you cared about.

The hay racks, loaded with bales, were usually pulled by a tractor that had a radio. The music would blare to entertain or else we would sing as loud as possible. Hot chocolate flowed freely and a few snacks made the rounds. We traveled along country roads leaving behind a trail of loose hay. The night sky was loaded with stars and, if planned right, a bright, harvest moon. Sometimes, one or two of the riders would get a little rowdy and be pushed or jumped off the rack, only to run hard and try to climb back on.

There was usually a little romance going on in a few of the back corners of the rack but with little privacy, most of it was quite innocent. Many a fun date was spent on hay rides.

Even as fun as the hay ride was, the best part was the bonfire at the end. More singing, laughter and food took place around the warmth of a large fall fire. Some of my favorite memories involve friends bringing guitars and leading the group in song while warming around the fire.

I'm not sure if I could stand the cold weather and bumpy rides on hay racks today, not to mention the fact that most hay bales are now large and round rather than small and rectangular. However, I hope that all teenagers are able to experience a hay ride or two in their lives and add some great outdoor fall fun to their memories.