Friday, November 4, 2011

fallen beauty

i know the goal is perfect green.  trim and tidy and not a twig in sight.  i see suburban lawns striving serious toward this fall ideal.   come autumn, and everyone is out -- zealously, religiously, hurriedly blowing leaves into oblivion.  rakes lean heavy on oak trees and piles loom high in backyards and everyone races against weather to rid their yards of what has fallen. what has come.  and the neighbors talk and watch anxiously across fences and flowerbeds,  wondering when mr. smith is going to tackle his own half acre or so -- his responsibility.  worried the neglected nature might blow into their own tightly-manicured frontscapes.  and i feel a bit rebellious in my blood.  i feel like a woman who wants to run to these neat and shipshape neighbors and take the wooden rakes from their gripping fingers and implore them to stop. "stop raking already, will you!" can you just imagine? (mother of five finally snaps).

as a little girl, i could never fathom why everyone was so soul-bent on whisking away what seemed so beautiful.  what nature had released.  what God had designed.  trees parting with the fire color of their fine dress.  yellow and red and orange jewels spread across empty, lonesome lawns.  it made me sad to see such beauty hurriedly shoved into black garbage bags and dragged curbside --like some nasty kind of business.  like someone might point the accusing finger of yard negligence.  like it might sully the image of good neighbor.  as a child,  i thought the fallen leaves looked like gems scattered across our small square of city lawn.    didn't my neighbors or my own dad see what i saw?  i think not.  maybe it was because they knew what i didn't --ignore the leaves and see the damage and mess come spring. they were reasonable and responsible and adult in their thinking. and so they raced on with rakes. and when the city lawn was traded for a suburban sized lawn, the rake was traded in too and the leaf blower was added to our garage arsenal.  though my father and the other men on the block saw a saturday morning chore,  my child-eyes watched a patchwork blanket of beauty descend.

but as life would have it, i grew up and away from that little girl in ohio.   i too, am all adult now.  i am a homeowner.  a yard worker.  i'd even like to think myself reasonable and responsible.   i understand better the race against weather and time.   but still...still...s t i l l  i am slow to this particular task and kind of blue when i watch my husband and boys begin the great leaf tackle.  they go at it weekend after weekend.   it is a family affair -- all seven of us doing something. when we chose this heavily treed lot, we never thought much about leaf removal.  i have to say though, it does cross our minds on saturdays in november.

  i know there are some who watch leaves fall and see only mess.  they see work.  they see a backache and calloused hands at the end of a long day in the yard.  i know that.  and as i grown woman, i get it.  i get all the talk about it and all the time spent on it.  but i still feel that child-longing inside.  i still drive through my neighborhood or out on a wooded road and see the sparkle of jewels scattered in blown beauty.  i still, occasionally, sit on the red adirondack chair in my backyard and delight in the fallen color at my feet. quiet and hushed and golden, if only for a moment.  i don't want to lose this entirely. sometimes i fear i might.  it is about perspective.

my close friends tease me about owning my own leaf blower.  my husband has a big gasoline guzzling kind of thing he uses,  but i wanted something cleaner, nicer, neater.  so off to home depot i went one day, a few years back, and purchased my own light weight, electric blower.  have i mentioned it is mine?  yes, mine.  so you see, i have joined the ranks.  i am not so romantically wired that i am willing to throw my body onto a leaf pile and protest its removal.  i contribute.  i blow leaves.  i even burn them.  thankfully we have woods behind our house and so the leaves go backwards, not curbside.   i'd be absolutely remiss to allow you to think i am a leaf-hugger. i do understand why they must go. i am no longer that little girl gazing out her bedroom window pretending her yard is a treasure trove of fall finery.  i know full well these golden leaves will turn to unsightly brown mush with winter's weight upon them. and so i, too, plug in my neat and nice little leaf blower and blow leaves as far as my series of extension cords allow.

i guess what i'm writing about today is perspective.  it is about taking the time to see things not just as messy, but as marvelous. not just as work-heavy, but as wonder-full.  it is about looking with eyes which see past tidy, and notice treasure.  perhaps i am just challenging you to take a walk in the park, on your street, in your yard and pick up something golden or red or orange and see it.  really see it.  and know that even its very falling is miraculous.  how did God think of that?  not too many years ago, one of my sons said to me, how did God ever come up with the idea to make the trees change colors? i thought that a pretty astute observation for a little guy and i am so glad he noticed before they were all blown away.


Aus said...

As always - a lovely post Jody! I know that 'chair' - mine's not red - but still - and as deaf as I am today I still remember the 'sound' the falling leaf makes hushed and loud at the same time!

Thanks for that memory -

hugs - aus and co.

Pam said...

Beautiful, Jody...and not just the pictures! I have to admit, with the cool weather and windows open, I'd been listening to the rustling of the leaves in the wind against each other, and thought of the chore of having to get them off the grass as soon as they fell (without Matt here to help...for real... was my selfish thought!) But, I still love the beauty of the colors of the changing leaves!