Leaves fall like rain and my lips draw a crescent moon's curl to think on this, a first grader's question: "Is Fall called Fall because that's when leaves fall?"
I think it's a good question because I don't know the answer. A quick peek at the internet's Magic 8-Ball tells me first graders are brilliant but my memory is leaky.
Leaves are supposed to be dressed in delicious shades of cherry and tangerine and banana, but this year roots never quench thirst. Drought substitutes toasty coffee and cocoa for Fall's rainbow flavors…crispy and crackly, compostable litter. This season's void of rain makes me more grateful for when it falls.
Out my front window, wind uncloaks when leaves pirouette. Swirly, twirly tattletales, they remind me of children.
In my mind's window, I see them, four in a pile, on a pile. Years stacked–a baker's dozen!–and I wonder "How?!" How can my baby be 13 AND A HALF, and how can my middle be taller than me, and how is my first born teetering on the nest's edge?
Knowing how doesn't stop you from screaming "How?!" I'm grateful for the years in between and thankful for reminders to savor fleeting moments.
Half of me sits with them; the other half stands in front capturing the moment. Time had yet to etch itself in skin or salt and pepper hair, and this was when we knew so much more than we know now. Thirteen years has taught us one thing: the more we know, the more we know we don't know. Both of us smile, his captured, mine out of sight but I'm certain it was there.
To the young, fallen leaves mean one thing: play! Is it Pan leaving Neverland when they learn it's actually work? Eventually "rake" becomes dreaded four-letter word and I wish for Pixie Dust and fewer trees. I wonder what we could've done differently to marry together "play" and "work" to make this a fun family activity. Am I delusional? We are talking teenagers here, after all.
Still, on magic-filled days it begins that way–leaf jumping (or burying), working together, even naming the rakes! A thousand years from now–when their children are walking (and raking) in their footsteps–what stories will they tell? What will they remember?
Oh, how I hope they look back, grateful, and realize . . .
"These" ARE the good ol' days!