I love to spend my October afternoons walking ankle-deep in dried, curled leaves.
They cover the back country roads, the forest floor, and my own front yard.
But, I cannot bear to rake them away, or burn them.
The dead, gnarled leaves drift down around me like confetti.
Some are in shades of red and maroon and crimson.
The color of country barns you pass by, when you are going home for Thanksgiving.
Or, those crisp apples, waiting to be picked from the orchard's trees.
And, taken, to be pressed for cider, or dipped into warm caramel.
Some are in shades of yellow and gold and butterscotch.
The color of dried corn husks and stalks, bundled together to decorate porches.
And, the fields full of bright sunflowers, guarded by straw scarecrows.
Or, like the buses and the #2 pencils, waiting for the children to come back to school.
Some are in shades of orange and amber and burnt sienna.
The color of pumpkins sitting in patches, waiting to be carved out for Halloween.
Or, like the sun setting on a cool, September, Indian summer's evening.
Or, a full harvest moon when it rises, late, into the night sky.
Some are in shades of brown and chocolate and pecan.
The color of fragrant cinnamon and nutmeg, sprinkled within my Mom's apple pie.
Or, like maple syrup dripping from my pancakes, on a November morning.
And, those acorns, fallen from oak trees, inhabited by squirrels and owls.
Autumn lasts for maybe, three months, but to me it feels like only three minutes.
So, I take it all in while I can.
I look up through the branches,
where the golden sunlight beats between the rustling leaves.
My heart beats with warmth and joy at the sight.
Even though, the wind chills me to the bone.
A long winter will soon arrive, and the world will be nothing but white and gray.
Yet, the rich, unforgettable beauty of fall lingers within me.
Because, sometimes, when the snow finally fades away in the spring,
I can still smell those decaying, dead leaves.
Then, instantly, my mind returns to the autumn days that took my breath away.