There’s a pile of leaves that builds thought out the day in my driveway.
To be correct it’s more of a courtyard than driveway, as it is a wide expanse of concrete surrounded on three sides by stone, two garage doors and stucco set back from the street by only 40 feet.
I suspect the leaves fall from the nearby trees, as there are none above the courtyard, and then a mystery wind blows all day long, spinning the leaves in joyful circles when I am not home. It seems that all the leaves in my yard agree to converge in the driveway.
Sometimes the wind makes the pile is so big it blocks the steps to the front door, at other times the entrance to the garage.
And so it is that I hold a rake. A rake that has seen a few seasons, perhaps as many as ten, its handle is worn smooth and stained with sweat from years past. The tines are rusted and far too many point out at odd angles. I really should buy a new rake.
The Author Battles The Leaves
The sound of the rake across the concrete echoes around the courtyard. The sound of concrete and metal is familiar, as with age comes a certain familiarity with all things seasonal. Familiar yet I can not recall how it felt the first time I ran through a pile of leaves and kicked them skyward again and again.
I fight off the urge to run through the pile that the wind and I have raked together. A pile that stares back at me and from deep within it calls my name.
I discard the need to run through the leaves and continue to rake the pile across the rough concrete and down into the side yard.
Somewhere down the long road that leads to my home, there is a fire burning, the smoke drifts through the trees and lingers in the stillness of the cold October air, and it strikes me as unique.
Years ago the smell of fall was always that of burning leaves, and with it the first logs of the season would burn our fireplace. But today’s gas fireplaces are without the crackle of real wood and without the smell of burning oak and cedar.
It’s now illegal to burn leaves in the county I live, but I recall the day when smoldering piles of leaves doted the countryside. Their thick smoke drifting ever skyward, signaling to the heavens, our preparations for the long winter ahead.
Now days there are even strict guidelines for placing leaves at the curb. The city sanitation department requires that leaves be placed in “clear plastic bags no more than 55 gallons in size, placed within an area at least six inches from the curb but no more than 18 inches from the curb”. And they must not be placed at the curb more than 24 hours prior to your scheduled pick up day.
The home owners association also gets into the fray, sending out letters to anyone who fails to rake their leaves in a timely manner or allows unsightly piles to develop unattended in their driveway. There’s even a $100.00 a day fine for those insidious scofflaws who thumb their noses at the “leaf rules”. I suspect there’s a rule about running through piles of leaves and elect not to chance a fine from the city or the homeowners association.
I recall the days, when raking your leaves to the street was good enough. What the passing traffic didn’t remove the city would, with a large truck that vacuumed up the massive piles of oak and maple leaves left curbside.
I spend the better part of the afternoon raking the leaves and while I’m temped to use the pricey leaf blower I bought last spring, I loath both the sound and the smell of the two cycle engines that scream through out the neighborhood all summer long.
Cold air has pressed south and a first snow has been reported in the North Carolina Mountains. Today is chilly but give a week or so and our Indian summer will return, as will the pile of leaves that just appear in my driveway almost daily, placed there by a mystery wind that blows through our lives.
Dusk nears and a great horned owl, no more than a block always calls out to the rising moon, as it appears just above the eastern horizon. It is big and the color of pumpkins with a splash of dried yellow Indian corn.
The days of fall remind me that our lives are ever changing and always aging.
So in the descending darkness and fading autumn light that filters though the sugar maple across the street, the call of my childhood persists. I glance around, and with no one watching I give the pile of leaves a good wide sweeping kick, the sound of dry leaves against my jeans is amazing, as the multi hued flakes of nature descend in a wonderful arch of color. The sensation, the color, the smell and the sound are pure joy to my senses and satisfaction to my soul.
There is a child in all of us and with the change of seasons the need to retreat to our childhood is never greater.
So run through your pile of leaves and tell the homeowners association to get a life!