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after the Fall

November 23, 2010

It’s raining, hard. I can hear the new gutters working. (I can also hear the heavy shedding of water from parts of the roof still waiting for gutters. Sigh.) I can’t hear the wet leaves piling up on the stoop (or makeshift cinderblock steps. Ahem.), but I know the storm is bringing the last ones down.

It’s fall waving goodbye, and I already miss it. Probably because, thanks to long workweeks and frequent trips, I feel like I almost missed a lovely season, the one whose bright colors ease our transition to shorter, colder days.

But thank goodness for that “almost.” Last weekend was a real weekend – all three of us home for both days – and we crammed it full of work (insulation) and play (the zoo). We squeezed in a walk in the woods, too, to catch the last of the fall glow.

Our colors were mostly brown this year, thanks to many late-summer weeks without rain. Still, the traffic on our scenic byway was crowded and slow-moving, as others went looking for pretty autumn views. It wasn’t what it usually is, but we still saw color.

Jack, decked out in seasonal colors (because he’s so attached to that orange vest that he slept in it four nights in a row, and he wore the goggles so long that condensation formed on the inside), wore fireman boots – the best for leaf-crunching, he says – and carried a walking stick to help him find the kind that really walks. And we found them.

I grew up with a big oak tree in the backyard. A rope swing hung from its thickest branch, and for the biggest whoosh-factor we’d jump from the top of a wide wooden ladder that still leans against the trunk. On the best first swing, we could grab a few leaves. In the fall, we’d tie the swing back against the tree, out of our way, and rake the leaves into big, crunchy piles to jump and throw each other into.

We didn’t live in a neighborhood – there was no curb appeal. Our rakes were for fun; our fallen leaves were all pretty colors and soft landings. It was at our Great Uncle Herbert’s house that we learned that in town, people raked leaves into big piles to bag up or burn. (We also learned that jumping into bags of leaves is almost as fun as the real thing.) Most puzzling were the leaf-blowers, which on some days still mystify me. Last week I saw one in action along a busy street in Little Rock – its operator was standing on a steep roadside hill, blowing leaves into busy lanes of traffic that sent the leaves whirling up into the air and back onto the hillside.

I miss sidewalks, and I love the community of neighborhoods. But I’m happy to live in the country, where you often need to be far-sighted to admire someone’s yard (a good thing, because mine has been partially surrounded by unsightly scaffolding for a year, and I like my clothesline). I’ll give my grass some sunlight and keep it from smothering, but from where I enjoy the view, a healthy scattering of bright leaves on the lawn keeps fall fresh – and at least half of all raking is just for fun.

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7 Comments leave one →
  1. November 24, 2010 3:25 am

    Wow, what gorgeous photographs! You definitely make me want to live there!

  2. November 24, 2010 12:00 pm

    I get this on so many levels, particularly the feeling that fall went by and I missed it. It’s my favourite time of the year, but this year I didn’t have the energy to delight in much of it. The good news is there is always next year.

    I also want to say that I often feel nostalgic for neighbourhoods and the community that comes with it. I also wish we could just walk to a park. And then I’m reminded of all that my children have to explore in our backyard and I know we are where we should be.

  3. November 24, 2010 6:46 pm

    Leslie, I am sad to wave goodbye to fall too. There is something about that time of year that feels right. Thanks for showing some of your fall. I think the picture of Jack is just precious.

    Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours!

  4. November 25, 2010 12:23 am

    Love the fall. It sometimes brings a touch of melancholy, but it’s a lovely season.

    Have a wonderful Thanksgiving!

  5. November 25, 2010 7:08 pm

    What a lovely post. And I adore your son’s vest/goggle/boots ensemble. How sweet! 🙂

  6. November 28, 2010 1:23 am

    Our colors are long gone, so I liked seeing yours! And those leaf-crunching boots.

  7. November 29, 2010 3:54 pm

    We get about two weeks of fall, if we’re lucky, and I always try to soak up those days. Soon enough, it’s months and months of bare trees and rain, rain, rain. And would you believe, I’ve never actually jumped in a pile of leaves? How have I made it this far without doing that??

    PS: Thought about you this weekend when the Hogs took down LSU. I almost made that strange Razorback noise for you. Almost. =>

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