Let’s Leave It At That

I love fall. I think what I love best is the promise of winter. I could live, year-round, in wool and thermal tops. I love snow, even shoveling it. Travelling up north this past week, I was blown away by the fall colors. It seemed that each tree I pointed out to Pete and my mom was the most beautiful I had ever seen…until I saw the next tree that was even more glorious. The day was perfect – sunny and a blue sky that complimented all of the amazing colors. I even saw a tree that was a wonderful shade of orange. Not red orange, but a true orange that grows on a tree orange. It took my breath away.

But alas, the trees can’t hold onto their leaves, just like fall can’t hold on when winter starts its pull. As a kid, I was charged with raking the leaves, mostly from a huge pin oak in our front yard. I enjoyed it because I am very visual, and raking leaves allows you to see what you’ve accomplished. I also enjoyed piling the leaves up and jumping into them or throwing my dog Spooky’s ball into the middle of the stack. He’d jump in, and being a rather small Cocker Spaniel, would disappear from view. We could only tell where he was by the shaking of the leaves from his wagging tail as he moved through the pile in search of a rather soggy tennis ball. Mom didn’t always like that Spooky destroyed her neatly piled leaves, but as long as I cleaned up afterwards, he could play to his heart’s content. And from the picture above, Kitty likes leaves, too!

Leaves were made to be enjoyed and played with or walked through. While I lived in Florida, I missed a lot of things from up north: my family, leaves and snow. There just wasn’t that fall color because the oaks down south didn’t turn. There was one tree in Tallahassee that turned a bit, and each year, Pete and I would drive into the back of the parking lot to gaze at it in wonder. Or at least I did! And because the trees didn’t lose their leaves, that meant no leaves to fall or walk through. There is something so inherently wonderful (at least to me!) about walking through leaves. No picking up of my feet for me – I drag them through, kicking the leaves into the air, enjoying the crunch and crackle.

We used to have two silver maples in our front yard in the tree lawn. Both were badly damaged by an ice storm several years ago. I called the city to inspect them, and next thing I know, there were blue “x”s on the trees. Within weeks, they were gone. It was so strange to not have them around. Pete liked to put the leaves into the woodland garden in the backyard. Of course, the maple leaves weren’t the best; he preferred oak leaves that are much sturdier. He even would go up to homeowners lucky enough to have oak trees with bagged leaves, asking them if he could take away the bags. After a few strange looks, the bags were freely given. If you think about it, what Pete did made sense. In a forest, the leaves would have fallen to the ground, broken down, enriching the soil. He called it leaf mold. I looked on line, and there are a myriad of ways to make leaf mold: pile leaves in a corner, or put them in a bin. If you shred them, the leaves will help provide nutrients as well as hold water in the soil come summer. I’m sure they also would be great at helping to break down Ohio’s sticky clay. Pete also adds the leaves to our compost to counterbalance all the nitrogen-rich grass in the summer. So instead of bagging those leaves, put them into your garden. Just avoid black walnut (their leaves can be toxic to other plants) or diseased leaves.

I prefer just walking through them.

Until next time.

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