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.