I believe in the restorative power of leaves
I was having a bad day and I went outside just to put some space between me and my troubles. The backyard was full of leaves so I picked up the rake and set to work so that I would have an excuse to stay outside. I’ve always liked autumn, and it was just the type of sunny day that can lift one’s spirits. I gathered together a big pile of leaves and brought over a large bag to stuff them into. The leaves had that wonderful fall odor to them so I thought I would make a bigger pile before discarding them. And then I got this crazy idea. I thought it would be good to lay down in the pile. Not jump into them but simply to lay down and take in the aroma. I looked around first. I’m 50 years old and getting gray, and leaf pile lying isn’t normally done by people like me. But no one was around, so I quietly laid down into the leaf pile. It was wonderful from the first moment. I was surrounded by leaves from red oaks, white oaks, burr oaks, sugar maples, red maples, silver maples, black gum, black cherry, green ash, and even left over flower pods from tulip trees. My butt and shoulders compressed the pile enough so that I could feel the ground underneath, but my arms and legs were suspended and weightless. It was quiet as long as I lay perfectly still, but even breathing made the leaves crackle quietly like the embers of an old fire in the woodstove. I was looking straight up and could see insects flying even this late in November. I could hear the quiet sounds of birds when they are together, not like the loud calls of birds in spring that sound more like politicians giving a speech, but similar to the quiet phrases of family conversations at dinner. I didn’t move for a good 20 minutes, but finally thought it was best that I get back to work. I lifted myself out of the pile and noticed the imprint of my body and legs and arms still in the leaf pile like you would see in a snow angel. I felt better. Not perfect, but better. The imprint in the pile looked like my troubles had left me and were lying there on the ground. I can still smell the leaves in my hair as I sit at the desk and write. Life is good, and even better because of dried leaves.
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