It’s that time of the year, this November part of autumn. Whether it’s a season or a concept, it’s an umbrella term for everything that’s great about the time of year. It’s the one last push, the colors created by Mother Nature are triumphs in the last moments before the Upstate New York weather turns bitter cold and ices over, preserving life beneath the snow and within a coat of ice.
People are nestling in, bundling up outside. Apple picking, pumpkin gutting and carving, spices here and there and everywhere (and even in some hair), chimneys spewing natural perfume and accents that cannot be found in jars. The darkening skies. The leaves that have given into letting themselves go are now nestled upon the ground, in bags, or they have been shredded into mulch.
The leaves that are currently waiting their fate, speckle the ground as grains of a great mosaic that can only be seen as/by a bird.
But properties, lawns still have a desire to be spiffy, and work has to be done. Raking. Mowing. Blowing. Seeing the green is desired for as long as possible.
Beneath that pile of leaves is a trapdoor to childhood.
Raking leaves is how we learned responsibility without even realizing we were actually doing work. Hell, we’d even take the leaves from neighboring yards; the neighbors appreciated it. The point was making the pile of leaves as big as the four of us could. This was practice before the big snowfall, a time where making snow people and ramps would be the anticipated activities.
In the backyard of one of our childhood homes, a pile of leaves would be constructed. Sure, we’d bury ourselves and each other in them, but there was another purpose. Who wouldn’t enjoy riding a wagon into the pile? It would be better if we jumped out and forward or to the side at the last second, before the wagon came to a halt. Sometimes we’d build the piles adjacent to someone’s deck, and we’d jump off the side of the raised wooden patio into the pile.
Daredevils were we.
The leaf piles were cocoons of autumn. You couldn’t suffocate in the piles, but you could breathe in the scents while in the dark. It’d be that much more of a mystical experience to be that much more a part of the earth.
The leaves would scatter, but still remain in the same area of the the chosen lawn, which would make the actual cleaning up easier for … parents. Yet, the result of rolling around included the flaky nature bits to dismantle themselves into specks that could nestle themselves into the tightest crevices: shoes and socks, in clothing and especially in pockets, within hair, in ears and sometimes up noses.
The leaves would scatter like breadcrumbs that would lead us to the mouth of the woods. We’d enter the area, unfazed that the trails would be blanketed. We’d still find our way to and from the lakes and our forts. We’d even keep warm by creating a little fire by burning magazines and newspapers.
(Yes, during the fall. Brilliant were we.)
But now, we still hang out midst the mosaic, kicking our feet up and staying warm by a fire pit. It’s hard to resist staring into the flames.