The days were growing shorter and the nights were cooler. One night the cold weather came and in the morning there were bright colours here and there among the green leaves of the big forest. Soon, all the leaves stopped being green. They were yellow and scarlet-red and crimson-red and golden and brown.
Along the wooden fence the sumac tree held up its dark red cones of berries above bright flame-coloured leaves. Acorns were falling from the oak trees, and Laura and Mary made little acorn cups and saucers for the playhouses. (Acorns are the seeds of oak trees; they can be eaten but do not taste good.) Walnuts and hickory nuts were dropping from their trees to the ground in the big forest. Squirrels were running busily everywhere, gathering their winter's store of nuts and hiding them away in hollow trees.
Laura and Mary went with her mother to gather walnuts and hickory nuts and hazelnuts. They spread them in the sun to dry. Then they beat off the dried outer hulls and stored the nuts in the attic for winter. (An attic is the space under the roof of the house).
It was fun to gather the large round walnuts, the smaller hickory nuts and the little hazelnuts that grew in bunches on the bushes. The soft outer hulls of the walnuts were full of a brown juice that stained their hands, but the hazelnut hulls smelled good and tasted good, too, when Laura used her teeth to pry a nut loose.
EVERYONE WAS BUSY NOW
Everyone was busy now, because all the garden vegetables must be stored away. Laura and Mary helped by picking up the dusty potatoes after her father had dug them from the ground. They helped by pulling the long yellow carrots and the round, purple-topped turnips. (Older varieties of carrots nearer to the wild ancestral type were pale yellow instead of orange.)