Living in Oregon is much different from my growing up days in Tennessee. In Tennessee, there were four distinct seasons — winter, spring, summer, and fall. Fall being one of my two favorites, or as a lot of people call it, autumn. One of my favorite memories is the yard cleanup my dad always did in his garden, flower beds, and the front yard. The front yard was blessed with an enormous, at least to me at age five, sycamore tree.
In spring, it looked so green and lush, and I loved laying under it looking for bits of sky between its leaves. It shaded almost the entire front yard making lots of work for dad in keeping the grass growing under it.
Then came fall and the tree undressed itself right there in front of God and everybody. Every leaf was shed so that nothing was left of my friend from spring. It became just a naked, old-looking tree. There were so many dead leaves fallen to earth that dad raked for days until he had everything in one large pile. A pile of leaves! Oh, joy! I forgot all about spring and the lush leaves I tried sneaking peaks of sunlight through. I was going to go leaf jumping.
The higher the pile of leaves the better, and the farther away dad was the better too. Jumping in and messing up his neatly gathered pile wasn’t considered good form, but I took my chances anyway. After all, dad was the easier of my two parents when it came to punishment, so I’d take the chance!
Generally, the punishment was in the form of helping clean up the mess I’d made. Oh, the joy of the jump made up for the cleanup detail! The smells, the color, the density of the pile, the anticipation — it was all part of the excitement of jumping into that first pile of leaves in autumn. And I could only hope that the other trees in the yard would do their bit toward showing up naked too, and then there would be more piles to run and jump into.
In Oregon, it often rains too much before all the leaves fall to make much of a leaf harvest into piles for jumping, but I still must say autumn is still my favorite season after almost 30 years in the Pacific Northwest. Leaves do color, but just not to the intensity of autumn colors in the south, southeast and New England areas. And the smell of wet leaves is the same in Oregon as in Tennessee, just not as wet!
Other memories of autumn are special and linger in my ponderings day to day, but not quite like the good old leaf jump!