"When dawn spreads its paintbrush on the plain, spilling purple... ," Songs of the Pioneers song from TV show "Wagon Train." Dawn on the mythic Santa Fe Trail, New Mexico, looking toward Raton from Cimarron. -- Clarkphoto. A curmudgeon's old-fashioned newspaper column, cross-breeding metaphors and journalism and art, for readers in 150 countries.

Monday, November 2, 2009

The rustle of leaves

Walk through the forest these days, and your senses explode. The color of the autumn leaves  highlight the season. But there's more if you pay attention.

The crunch and rustle of fallen leaves under your feet, the sounds of squirrels and other varmints scurrying in the undercover, the sound of the wind crackling the branches and leaves, the fluttering of leaves wafting down to the ground below. The sounds of the season are almost delicious.

Your footsteps and the breezes stir up the smell of mold and pollen and aromas of seedtime and harvest. Reach up and pull down a red leaf and feel it in your hand, the brittle and delicate veins breaking, exposing more color and smell to your touch--a miracle of creation in your grasp..

That's why I walk without some music stuck in my ear. It's a time for reflection, for thinking, for enjoying the world. There is no silence, there is death, but there is also life most sensual.

After the walk on my back porch, I can hear the drone of leaf blowers in the neighborhood, the scratching of rakes, the rattle of lawnmowers--all trying to keep ahead--or at least pace with--the falling leaves.

Increasingly bare, twisted branches of the oaks tell the stories of passing years, of ups and downs, of droughts and rains, of winds and heat, of tragedies and loves.

What I miss most is the smell of burning leaves. If you've lived in the country or a smal town, that's the way you dispose of them. Rake them into a pile, choose a calm day, and start burning them. The smoke fills the neighborhood,  another decaying, vital smell of life passing.  I don't understand why we can't burn leaves in so called "civilized" communities like uppity Edmond. It would actually be more eco-friendly than bagging them and carting them off to the landfill.

Sure we make some into mulch for the roses and herbs and azealeas, but life would be richer with the smell of burning leaves, the smoke backlit by the sinking sun.

Even the squirrels above my head, jumping from branch to branch, knowing the season's end in ways I can never know, understand, As does the cawing crow, the screeching Jay.

Firewood's cut, grass is poking up above a carpet of brown oak leaves, last light of sun is turning leaves even more golden at the top of large oaks. They soon will fall, like memories.

The more autumns, the more leaves, the more memories the more valuable--awakened by senses in a stroll in the woods.

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