Every Breath that Stirs the Trees Doth Cause a Leaf to Fall

Autumn is my favorite season. I think it is the crisp smell in the atmosphere. Or the warmth of a bonfire while a cool, autumn mist threatens to chill fingers, toes, and noses.

In high school, I anticipated each Friday night, which would include a quick excursion into Council Bluffs for franchised nourishment. Satisfied with grease and MSG, my friends and I would race back home to change into our uniforms. And then we would walk.

We would walk to the football game, my friends donning constricting, out-dated band uniforms and I an itchy, synthetic, guard costume. As we neared the field, the temperature gracefully lowered, demonstrating a ideal example as to why September and October are known for "sweatshirt weather."

Now in college, I gleefully take pleasure in the deliciously radiant colors displayed throughout campus. I photograph inconsequential things, admire leaves, and don skirts & tights three times a week.

When I walk through the Engineering Mall to work, I pass lines of trees just beyond the Physics and Materials & Electrical Engineering buildings, a panorama of burning bushes. My skirt flounces as I cross Northwestern, my face tickled by an October breeze while, beneath my black suede boots, a spectrum of sanguine foliage crunches and crumbles into minuscule dust.

I love the sweaters. I love the surprisingly seamless blend of short skirts and over-sized dolman-style cardigans; color, gray.

I love the moments when, walking to and from campus, the wind presents me with detached leaves--and, literally, smacks me in the face.

The leaf, brown and dry, cracked and stiff with petrified veins, clings to my cheek. I peel it from my profile, twirl the stem between my thumb and forefinger, smiling. Nature.

I love corn mazes and pumpkins and pumpkin pie and Halloween decorations and marching band competitions and raking leaves and roasting marshmallows and candy apples and football games and last-minute, the-weather-is-still-good-to-do-this-adventures and sweatshirts and squirrels and cider.

Actually, that's not true. I do not love cider. I do, however, love alliteration.

I wish I were a child.

If I were a child, I would help my mother rake the leaves in our front yard, rake and rake and mold into a monstrous pile. West of the house, I would run and leap into the mound, my crunchy, brown impact kaleidoscoping leaves into the air.

I would tease our living room with fake cobwebs, soften the room with pumpkin-spice candles. If I were a child, I would watch Ray Bradbury's "The Halloween Tree" and wonder with a childlike wonder the days of Halloween yore.

It makes me reminiscence. It reminds me of childhood, adolescence. Each time a breath of autumn carries a leaf to me, dances my skirt, touches me--I remember. I grab memory's snapshots, piece a collage: the whisper of fabric twirling just beyond my nose, a rake with a jagged teeth, a purple sweatshirt. Flames dance, rain falls, spicy aromas fade.

There is a leaf on my desk. Just to the left. A brown leaf with holes and veins and the brown crispiness of a burnt potato flake. Just beyond my nose, I twirl it between my thumb and forefinger, smiling. I love autumn.


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