MY FAVORITE MEMORY OF FALL
It might seem strange that the scent of decaying leaves would be pleasant. Memorable. But scent is a funny thing, the way it triggers the remembrance of long-ago days.
We lived in a house at the end of a long driveway. The house was set way back from the road, which was actually a highway. Not the kind of highway you think of today, but a major route that stretches from Cape Cod to California. Trucks rumbled by all day, so it made sense to build a home far back from that road.
My sisters and I didn’t have neighbor kids to play with (there was an elderly couple on one side – I remember the man always scowling), so we found our own fun. When October rolled around, there were leaves – so many leaves! Oak and maple trees surrounded the property, and on Saturdays my dad raked all morning. We may have tried to help, but I’m sure we didn’t. Still, once the leaves were raked into a big pile on the far corner of the driveway, pushed against the high stone wall, it was time to jump.
Normally, we couldn’t jump from the stone wall to the driveway – it was a drop of about five feet, too high for me at five and my sister at seven. But the leaves provided a cushion – and we’d bury ourselves in the pile, trying to hide from each other, and from my father. What fun! Well, until it was time to burn the pile down.
Back then, leaf-burning was permitted, because, for the most part, people were careful. My father burned small portions of the pile at a time, never leaving it unattended, and never letting us get too close. I was fascinated, and still am, but it’s a rare sight these days to see anyone burning leaves. Still, once in a while, when the weather is warm enough for an open car window, I catch a whiff and am transported back in time. And it warms my heart.
About the author: Martha Reynolds is the author of six novels, including the Amazon bestsellers Chocolate for Breakfast and Bits of Broken Glass. Her writing has appeared in Magnificat magazine and her very short poem was read by journalist Connie Schultz during NPR’s Tell Me More poetry challenge. She and her husband live in Rhode Island, never far from the ocean.