Fall brings cooler evenings and girls who suddenly have trouble waking and an end to the manic Jewish holiday season and suddenly, all of life is a little calmer, a little slower. This is what I think of when I see the leaves begin to change colors.
And then this became the year that I decided I hate the changing leaves. It’s not because they’re clogging our gutters or smothering our lawn or because the sound of leaf blowers makes both girls scream and cling to me.
It’s because they fall down. Simple as that. They fall down, in particular, along the walkway leading up to the entrance to the girls’ daycare.
And therein lies the problem.
First, L was afraid to step on a leaf.
Then E picked up a leaf and a little spider crawled off of it onto her and now she’s afraid of spiders.
Then, L went to kiss a tree and a leaf fell on her head and she began demanding I want hat on! I want hat on! though hat is her word for ‘hood’ and she had no jacket at all and so she threw herself into a tantrum on the ground, which only led to more offensive leaves violating her prone body.
Then E overcame her fear of spiders enough to begin collecting leaves in earnest.
The L decided she needed to collect leaves, too.
Both girls were stuffing them in their lunch bags, in their pockets, in the bottom of their cubbies at school and in my hands as soon as they saw me. Leaves were everywhere.
And so it goes.
I can’t get them into school because they’re trying to pick up every pretty leaf on the ground. I can’t get them into the car after school because they can’t walk past the leaves and not pick them up.
I reached into my back pocket at work today to retrieve a business card whose phone number I needed. My hand came out with the card—and a crumpled maple leaf that I had entirely forgotten I let E stuff in my pants this morning.
There is a yard trim bag’s worth of leaves desiccating on the floor of my car from where the girls drop their precious collections as soon as they realize that there is 30 more minutes left in our commute and they’re hungry. Hands can clutch leaves, or they can open zippers on lunch bags and container lids on cut strawberries and add another layer of organic material to the bottom of the car.
I just realized with alarming resignation that I’m not driving a station wagon. I’m driving a compost bin.
Earlier this week I was on the verge of a ridiculous Mom-pronouncement. I was ready to declare leaf-gathering illegal. The leaves were making messes everywhere, slowing us down coming and going, and causing all manner of distractions.
And then after taking eight minutes to walk the 50 feet from the car to the daycare, E did something heart-meltingly sweet. She ran into and out of each classroom. To every teacher, she proffered one of her hand-selected auburn leaves.
That’s exactly the person I want her to become: a generous spirit who thinks lovingly of others, someone who, in possession of something special, looks around to spread the joy of whatever she has.
So I smiled and kept my pronouncements to myself.
That stinker. She outplays me every time.