I have a thing for autumn leaves. The color, the smell, the crunch. I think it stems from my early childhood living in Florida and visiting grandparents in New York and Massachusetts. We would fly up for a visit and see the trees in flaming oranges and reds. Trees – so foreign in my earliest memories. My books all showed trees with puffy green branches. The trees at my grandparents’ houses were anything but.
On one trip North when I was in preschool, my mom helped me pick the prettiest leaves from my grandmother’s yard. We ironed them between two sheets of waxed paper so their vibrant colors would last forever. When we got back to Florida, I brought the leaves into school for show-and-tell. Each of my classmates got to take one leaf home with them. Those leaves were such a novelty for us.
A few years later, my family moved to Connecticut. We had an enormous yard; a clearing surrounded by a small woods. We moved in the middle of winter, so we had almost lived at that house a full year when we first saw the enchanted forest around our house burst into color. When those leaves fell, we had mountains of leaves to play in. We would rake them into enormous piles, set the rakes to the side, and dive in head first. The leaves were so numerous, we could swim through them. We would play for hours until our piles were flattened and scattered, where we’d leave them to rake up again the next day. That was the best yard I have ever seen.
A few more years went by, and then my family moved one more time to Massachusetts. We moved in the fall, and were immediately met with a vibrant landscape. One of our first weekends at the new house, my parents piled us in the car for a drive. “Where are we going?” one of us asked. “Leaf-peeping!” my mother answered. Not much of an answer… until we got out into the mountains and were spellbound by the colors around us. We became seasoned leaf-peepers after that, driving around the state to see the trees in their finest. Stopping for apple picking and cider. Breathing in the colors. Rejoicing in Fall.
Living in Maryland, where I’ve been for the past seven years, I still appreciate the colors of the trees around me. I look forward to weekends driving out Route 70 into the country to see the lines of brightly colored trees dotting the landscape. I can’t wait to have a yard filled with leaves to rake up and jump in with Laura. I hope to someday decorate our house with waxed-encased leaves, just so I can see the wonder on my daughter’s face. I have a thing for autumn leaves.