Indian Summer Leaves


Leaves, leaves, leaves and more leaves.

I didn’t grow up in areas with 4 seasons. When I encountered a real autumn for the first time, I was awed – awed in every sense of the word. I couldn’t fathom that such a spectacle occurred every year and yet people just went about their business as if nothing was out of the ordinary. Nor could I understand how so many commented only to complain about leaf removal.

In North Carolina, we did have some deciduous trees – not many – and I’d collect leaves, make a glue of flour and water, and glob them onto my dresser mirror. When I moved here and experienced the glory of deciduous forests at their peak, those puny leaves I used to attach to my mirror seemed ridiculous.

indian summer

Indian Summer on the Patio

While I’m still awed, and sometimes rendered speechless, I do go about my life as if nothing extraordinary is happening. After several decades of deciduous trees in abundance, I also complain about leaf removal. It appears I’ve become complacent.

But not too much.

After several weeks of the dogs tracking leaves in the house, I finally got my butt out there with a broom and a rake. After years of this, I know better than to begin the process before all the leaves have fallen.

The idea was to at least clear the patio. Designing one’s garden with a sunken patio near mature oaks creates autumnal challenges. It’s easy to lose a small dog out there. Moreover, the condition of my gutters would make at least one person I know weep.


Outside Leaves In

It was daunting. It is daunting.

For several hours, I have maneuvered around patio furniture, the heat pump, small dogs, flower pots, dog toys, retaining walls, and the hot tub trying to bring order out of chaos. The task is made more daunting in that I don’t remove the leaves; I chop them up with the lawn mower and leave them lie to improve my pitiful soil. Three small dogs of a mind to help add an additional layer of difficulty.


Never too old for a good leaf pile.

But the truth is, I can’t bring myself to just attend to the task. I have to play in them. I’m still susceptible to the joy of jumping in a great pile of leaves and immediately being pounced upon by the dogs. The four of us romped, made leaf angels, and pretty much made a bigger mess than I started with. Towards the end of Romper Room with Leaves, the cat joined in. Indian Summer made it all that much more fun. The temperature is positively tropical out there.

The patio is clear, more or less. I haven’t gotten the lawn mower out yet so there are still great heaps of leaves about the yard. One brisk wind and they’re all going to end up back on the patio. I’m trying to summon the discipline to get out the lawn mower and finish – or at least make a serious dent in the project. But I don’t know, those piles of leaves look like they need some more playing in.

small brown dog

You could lose a small dog out here.

I was just lamenting that I have too many projects going on and too little time. In my hurry-hurry life, it speaks well, I think, that I can still find time to play in the leaves.  As long as I can still find time to play and marvel, life will be good – is good.



Used under a creative commons license. Pareerica's

I did a search on Flickr using the term imagine – I was delighted to find the very kind of image I set out to find on the very first screen of results. It’s a good day to be me.

I wanted an image that was a little edgy – one’s imagination can be a fearful place as well as a hopeful place. It’s most powerful when those two mix – hope rising out of fear.

One of our features as Homo sapiens sapiens is that we possess the ability to think beyond the here and now – to both hope and fear, for these are components of imagination. We can see possibilities. We can anticipate barriers.

Most of us lead comfortable little lives only barely tinged with the quiet desperation of Thoreau’s imagination. We go through rough spells. Some of us will throw up our hands and say, “I can’t do this.” But we can. We do.

Our lives sometimes feel like an endless stream of I-can’t-do-these-things-I’m-doing. Perhaps that’s the core of Thoreau – the desperation of self-imposed limits.

What-if is often seen as a brain-storming, motivational force. My what-ifs are worst case scenarios. I don’t think I’m a fearful person, but then again, I’ve had a right awful couple of years. There’s that old chestnut about 99% of what we fear never happens. If that’s an accurate statistic, my 1% has been powerful enough to cause lengthy analyses of dark what-if scenarios before I can move forward.

I discovered I was stronger than I thought I was. I’ve moved forward when I didn’t think I could even stand.

I-can’t-do-this is a lie.  

Still, I wasn’t impressed with myself.

I’ve whispered I-can’t-do-this and I’ve shouted I-CAN’T-DO-THIS. But I did it and I’ll do it. The doing can be worrisome, terrifying, humbling. It can also be strengthening. A large part of the downside is the fear of what will people think.  That fear is that we’ll be alone.

Another salient feature of Homo sapiens sapiens is that we’re pack animals. We need one another at the primal level. And yet we pride ourselves on our independence. We’re quirky creatures.

Pride is not an integral part of dignity. Dignity is imbued by the creator, pride is manmade. Pride can be squashed, but a loss of dignity is self-imposed. Independence is a chimera; and quirkiness, well, quirky is dignity in faded jeans and a clever t-shirt.

I’m not that strong. Every I-can’t-do-this that I’ve done has relied on help from someone. It’s always easier to accept help when you haven’t asked for it, but the I-can’t-do-this when the this is asking for help is a lie too. I can do this. I can ask for help. I’ve proved it.  And when I’ve been asked for help, I’ve always been happy to.  We’re pack animals, we’re cooperative – we’ve had to be to survive.

I-can’t-do-this is a lie.  

We-can-do-this is more accurate.