Monday, November 15, 2021

Thoughts from a girl with a leaf rake

I raked leaves today.  The sound a leaf rake makes is characteristic of autumn to me.  A metallic scratchiness as I gathered cherry leaves that fell today onto our brick patio.  Quieter on the lawn as I raked a random collection of leaves into a pile. When I switched from my metal rake to a slim rake with plastic tines as I attempted to clear apple leaves that have begun falling into the raspberry bed, it was so quiet that I could hear other leaves falling in the yard and a few swirls of leaves as the breeze moved them along paths predetermined by physics.  No power needed to fuel my rake beyond a few calories I could easily spare.  No blast of noise to be heard a block away.   

I raked leaves today.  Not for the first time this season.  These leaves are destined to be mulched and added to our compost pile.  All that energy wasn't going into body bags headed into the landfill.  These leaves were my yearly "brown" treasure to balance the "green" contribution to compost. Yeah, there were some bags that went curbside last week when the compost bin seemed full.  But a week and a soaking rainstorm has settled it enough that I can see there's room for more.  These leaves will become a rich, dark, organic addition spread throughout the yard next spring.  Magically, these apparently dead leaves will be transformed into white peonies, pink roses, tender lettuce, tart cherry tomatoes and fried zucchini slices. I don't have to do anything but put them in a pile.  Worms and bacteria will do the rest. 

I raked leaves today.  They weren't as pretty as the glowing orange leaves from the sugar maple so lovely that I took reference photos of them for a future watercolor painting.  The simple forms of the yellow-gold cherry leaves couldn't compete with the huge heart-shaped leaves from the redbud.  But there was one oak leaf easily as large as my footprint that steadfastedly refused to be added to any pile.  It was a nondescript simple unlovely brown escapee that seemed destined to reside in its own world quite separate from the smaller hawthorn and apple leaves. I was good with that.  The simple truth is that there will be more leaves to be raked.  I will have other chances to get every. single. leaf.  But not yet.  My garden looks like autumn, leaves nestling in nooks between rocks that will be challenging to clear, a few late-blooming mums.  And roses! and petunias! and a purple alyssum seedling that chose November in which to bloom. An odd mix of spring, summer and fall jumbled together.  Maybe it's okay to be a little ragged and a tad unkempt and a bit out-of-step as we prepare ourselves for challenges ahead. Maybe it's supposed to be that way.

I raked leaves today.  I was cold enough to need my heather-blue knit vest indoors, but I was glowingly warm from a bit of exercise on a mild sunny day outdoors.  Better yet, I felt relaxed and happy.  Mother Nature and I were in harmony.  We'd collaborated.  She dropped the leaves so  I could rake them into piles.  She stopped the photosynthesis so I could enjoy the colors hidden in the leaves since springtime.  She offered lessons on change, on mindfulness, on responsibility and I absorbed them.  

I raked leaves today.  It was a good day.

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