A Portrait in Leaves

25 Nov 2007
November 25, 2007
my daughter's leaf portrait

To document this event I ran into the house for my camera, depositing leaf particles throughout the interior.

A cold late-day Thanksgiving wind brought down the rest of our tree’s leaves. It was literally raining leaves. And our indoor cat, spying these objects fall gently to the ground pounced at our window in an effort to grab them.

The next day we worked off our holiday feast with a family leaf-blowing and raking celebration. I say celebration for this was the first year our girls wanted to help bring in our annual crop of crunchy detritus.

I was very excited. After fourteen years I was eager to hand off the job to a younger and now more able-bodied generation. Ok, my delight was a bit premature. They wanted to get their hands on the leaf blower. And I was only too happy to oblige –provided they were schooled in the proper and most economical ways to move those suckers to the curb.

“Aim the nozzle down, low to the ground and swing it up just so,” I instructed. “It’s like you’re gently encouraging them to make the pilgrimage on their own. The smooth upward motion will move the pile the greatest distance with the least amount of effort.” Teaching my time-honored technique required an incredible amount of patience. As always, I was eager to get this nasty job done as quickly as possible. But I needed to be centered and calm. Yes, it would take me longer this year. But the thought that in the years to come I could be like our cat, a comfortable spectator to our annual leaf ballet was motivation enough. My time would be well spent. I envied that cat.

Suddenly, four hours later we were done. And to revel at the job’s conclusion my oldest asked if she could bury herself in one of the huge piles we had created along the street. I rewarded her hard work with an affirmative, as long as she took a shower immediately upon entering the house. (Let it be known this offer was extended to our youngest as well, but, while she so wanted to jump into that pile as much as her sister, she would never take a second shower in one day.)

Our cat observed us from her window with a strange mix of skepticism and craving.

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