A Special Autumn Leaf
Caught up in the endless round of activity that permeates life with school-age children, it is sometimes difficult to pause to just… appreciate. I certainly found this to be the case when I was raising a child in elementary school. Autumn is one of the busiest seasons. The beginning of a new school year, days are filled with shopping for school supplies, signing up for after-school activities, and shlepping kids to those same activities. Not to mention meeting and adjusting to new teachers and handling the many other claims on time and attention.
Did I mention Halloween costumes? And pumpkins and Scouting and PTA meetings. Sports. Field trips. Permission slips.
Amid the traditional fall activity, I was always happy to be able to find a quiet hour to spend with my daughter unburdened with these demands on our time and attention. This is what happened during one of those all-too-infrequent, precious times.
One Fall Day…
Years ago, now, in early October, my 10-year-old daughter and I walked around our neighborhood, admiring the vibrant autumn leaves. It was a precious chance to spend some time together sharing quiet conversation and the beauties of nature – moments snatched from hectic daily life.
Overhead, trees flaunted brilliant foliage: flaming orange, glowing russet, elegant maroon, sunny yellow. Beneath our feet, spent brown leaves crackled and swished. Within the subdued brown lay the occasional newly-fallen leaf — still vibrant, still moist — a treasure to be gathered and admired for a short time or pressed between pieces of wax paper.
As we walked, we talked. Lazy, quiet conversation about friends and school, about recent events, about the delicate leaves we gathered so carefully. Our plan was the same as when we went rock-picking on the beach. We’d pick up the leaves we liked best and then take them home to sort and contemplate. Our favorites would be preserved between sheets of wax paper.
We strolled on, scuffling our feet in the dry leaves — enjoying the swishing sound they made — all the while looking for special specimens.
Ahead, I spied an especially gorgeous leaf. Long and narrow, it shaded from green to yellow to red and seemed to embody everything good and precious in this season of change.
Excitedly, I pointed it out to my daughter.
She looked at it for a long moment before responding. “Mom,” she said patiently, “It’s a gummy worm. You need your glasses checked.”