While raking leaves the other day, I time-traveled back more than 20 years to when my little girl used to keep me company in the yard and play in the leaf piles as they accumulated.
My daughter’s laughter ranks No. 1 in the archive of audio clips in my brain. Leaf laughter had bit of a squeal to it as she dug out from being buried alive. Or threw herself on a mounded pile and burrowed down to hide. She was hesitant at first, until I dove in for a demonstration. After that, there was no holding her back. Could never bag the leaves or put them in the recycle bin until after she was played out and inside napping.
She was so tiny back then, she used to hide behind a rhubarb plant in my backyard flower bed. Her mom outfitted her in cute clothes, but really it was the girl who made the outfits cute. Rubber boots. OshKosh pants or overalls. Jacket or sweater, both with hoods on them, or some kind of hat with animal ears pulled snug over blonde hair, blue eyes and sweet smiling lips from which came that glorious, precious, carefree laugh.
Back then, I had only the leaves from one pear tree to contend with. I’ve since added a pair of birch trees on north side of my yard, tripling the area of the red, yellow and brown leaf carpet and rising up closer to the house to fill my rain gutters, too. There’s now a small maple tree in the front yard as well, adding scarlet leaves to the boughs, berries and brown shakings that blow down off the three cedar trees grouped in the southeast corner of my place. The cedars offer great foliage for Christmas wreaths, but we’re in no hurry for that, with Halloween and Thanksgiving still to savor. The magnolia trees that my daughter and I planted in her youth on the south side of our yard retain most of their leaves but still shed year-round.
Fall also brings to mind the sound of the cannon they used to fire at Snohomish High football games after every touchdown. You could hear it all over town. That tradition started when I was in school and ended shortly after my daughter graduated when the cannon, apparently stuffed with an oversized charge, blew up and injured one of the ROTC kids manning the gun. Great fun while it lasted. Football fortunes have seemingly been down ever since.
The grown girl doesn’t jump in my leaf piles anymore, but, unlike the cannon, I still hear her live laughter on a regular basis, and my fortunes are reassured.