Wednesday, October 28, 2009
Leave it Alone
When I visited my parents a couple weeks ago, I snapped a picture of a pile of leaves on the side of the street, waiting for leaf pick up. It's a very ordinary thing, and I wouldn't have bothered to photograph it at all except that I knew it was something my children had never seen. Here in the stupid suburbs we used to have to rake everything up and put it in bags by the curb awaiting pick up. Bags designed to look like pumpkins and ghosts were very popular. Who doesn't want to decorate their yard with festive trash bags? (And let's not even get started on taking a substance as biodegradable as leaves and tying them up tightly in a plastic bag. Ahem.) This year, we are not even given that option and have to find a way to dispose of "all yard waste" ourselves. It's time to start composting, but that's a digression I'm not gonna take today...
Because I'd rather talk about those piles of leaves.
As a kid I remember loving walking through them. I loved the way they smelled and I loved the way they resisted just a little bit as I kicked them up. I loved the way they fell back down - unpredictably predictable. The final destination was always the ground, but if they weren't wet, they would float and drift and sometimes even dance before returning to their place on the street. I loved the way it sounded when they started to dry and produced an audible whoosh as I walked through them, breaking the crisp stillness of an autumn day.
I was always cautioned, though, to not kick with abandon - because something could be hidden under the leaves. I was never told exactly WHAT to look out for - just that SOMETHING might be there. It was easy for a young girl's imagination to run wild. Someone might stash TREASURE under those leaves was a common theme on the way home from the bus stop in the bright afternoon in the company of friends. We would carefully kick at every pile, just to make sure. As the street lights came on, more grisly things were imagined lurking in those piles. Crazed injured animals. Murderous fiends who would grab your ankles. Zombies waiting for the last vestiges of daylight to disappear before beginning their nightly quest for brains.
When I learned to drive, I was cautioned once again not to drive through the piles of leaves. Idiots who thrive on schadenfreude could stash cinder blocks there, ruining your tires or worse. Kids could be playing in the leaves. Zombies - well, no. My parents didn't warn me about zombies. Still, though, better safe than sorry. What if you started to run over one but instead of killing it, just pissed it off? What if THAT happened, huh? Somewhere along the line, I took all of those warnings and imaginary scenarios and convinced myself that there were - or at least COULD be - babies in the leaf piles. That did the trick. I have NEVER driven through a pile of leaves because - sure - there's probably NOT a baby in it, but what if there WAS? How would I feel THEN?
Welcome to my world of fear and irrational paranoia. It's unnerving here sometimes, but the colors are pretty.
And for the love of all things holy, if you live in a community that still has leaf pick up, DON'T DRIVE THROUGH THE LEAVES!