Thursday, October 18, 2007

The Power of Ritual - Kicking Leaves – One of Fall’s Simple Pleasures

I noticed the leaves last night, as I sat at writing by the balcony window of my aerie. Every breeze blows them in a golden yellow rain past my window.

I walked out the door this morning and the golden leaves lay on the sidewalk swept into little mounds by nature’s own broomstick – the wind.

I couldn't resist; I didn’t even try. I walked through each mound, kicking leaves as I went about my morning walk. I watched them scatter and take flight one last time – blown here and there by the insistent wind. It is a ritual of the season.

“You’re having too much fun for a grown-up.” The voice from behind startled me from reverie. I turned to see a white-haired suited man with shiny shoes carefully walking around or over each mound of leaves.

“No such thing as too much fun.” I answered. “And harm none, do what you will, and I will have fun.”

A simple thing like kicking leaves triggers memory and takes me back to all every Fall that came before. I feel sheer joy in the crisp air that rouges my cheeks. I can actually hear the cacophony of colors and sounds amplified through time, and I am there again far away and long in that invincible childhood.

Winters invited abandon. I lay flat out in boundless snow, arms akimbo then fanning out arms and legs leaving traces of angel’s wings and robes. Spring brought warm rains to walk in with or without an umbrella, puddles to jump in, and new flowers to pick. Summer’s arrival called for swimming holes still cold, running through sprinkles in the yard, and laying in the yard late a night hoping for a shooting star.

Fall was all about the leaves, a rain of colors - yellow, red and russet. I caught the leaves as they fell; jumped from the porch into the carefully raked mountain of their colored splendor; and ran down the sidewalk scattering them asunder – kicking leaves. Fall was so much fun then.

The ritual is still a pleasure. I carry pressed in memory all the Falls that came before, and all the leaves I’ve ever seen, smelled, or held.

It is one of many rituals to celebrate the passing of seasons. When there are enough leaves to kick, I walk and walk for miles, kicking leaves and looking at trees, and smelling the very change in the air. Fall is here, and Winter can’t be far behind. At home, it is time to rake the leaves and bank them up around the base of plants and trees to warm and feed the roots so they will winter well and bloom again in Spring. The leaves lose their brilliant colors in the service of the garden, except in memory held close until this time next year, which will find me once again kicking leaves.

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