by admin | November 14, 2013 7:44 pm
The other day we headed out to eat dinner to celebrate our daughter Abbie’s excellent report card. The sun was sinking low with the time change, though it wasn’t quite 5 o’clock. I looked down the street to check for traffic and saw the light catching the leaves on a tree in a front yard. That tree was ablaze with leaves glowing in the sunlight, so much so that I pointed it out to my Beautiful Mystery Companion. That tree made us both smile.
This is my favorite time of year — crisp mornings, intense light, brilliant foliage, blue northers sweeping through with gray skies, stiff winds and driving rain. Autumn takes its time coming to East Texas; summer dallies far too long in my humble estimation. But the swimming pool has been covered and the pump winterized, this time by the professionals. That makes summer’s banishment official.
Last year, the first time I have owned a pool, I tried to do everything myself since I didn’t have a day job. I waited too long to cover the pool, which meant by mid-November I was cleaning leaves out of the skimmer four times a day. Plus, I enlisted a buddy to help me put the cover on the pool. If we had filmed it for YouTube, it might have become an Internet sensation. We had no idea what we were doing, and it clearly showed. Three hours later, the cover was on the pool, we were exhausted but it was never really as tight as it should have been.
This year, I called a pool company who came out three weeks ago and took one less task off my hands. You can bounce a penny off that cover this year. That is one of the great advantages of again having a day job, second only to thoroughly enjoying what I now do. A steady income buys one time, by paying people to do things last year I was doing myself.
Hence, I am looking for someone to rake leaves. Last year by February I had filled 142 30-gallon bags of leaves. This year, sometime in the next week or so, I will find someone else to take on that duty. I would rather spend the free hours of the weekend with my family, or reading, writing — anything except raking.
That means I can again enjoy the leaves that are falling like fat raindrops outside my study window, covering the driveway and azaleas. My BMC is relieved I have adopted a laissez-faire attitude about the leaves this season. She loves the way the leaves in all their colors blanket everything. Last year, all I saw was a task lying before me that would only loom larger the longer I waited. I would haul out the blower and rake, and begin bagging leaves — knowing a fresh round would fall soon. This year the longer I delay the less money I will have to shuck out for yard care. It is just about that time, though. The leaves are getting deep enough on the driveway that they drag on the dogs’ bellies when we walk down to get the mail.
When I was a child I spent hours playing with leaves, weaving twigs through them and pretending they were wounded soldiers on a battlefield. Or I would attempt to tie them together by their stems and make a leaf-airplane. I would try to rip exactly half of a leaf off, leaving the other half untouched. I could sit in the grass and mess with leaves for hours as a kid.
I loved the way leaves felt in my hands — fresh off the tree and still supple, or dried and crackly, crumbling between my fingers. I loved — still love — the smell of gentle decay, of earthiness, of autumn.
Oddly enough, though I was raised in New England until I was nearly 13, most of my memories of playing with leaves are in the backyard of our house on South Twelfth Street in Longview after we moved here. I am lying on my back under the huge sweetgum — holding a leaf up to the sky, studying the light shining through it, illuminating its veins.
I must have been a weird kid.
Autumn will quickly segue into an East Texas winter, generally gray and wet if patterns hold. My BMC and I are planning to haul the trailer up to her dad’s farm soon and bring back a load of firewood. That will be a fine trip with plenty of foliage to admire along the way. Besides, a good fire on a cold winter’s night can make one believe all is right with the world.
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