Thursday, October 25, 2012

Leaf Thief

Maybe you saw me, slipping into your front yard, my eyes wide with wonder, cast longingly upward or scanning the ground.  Maybe you noticed when I plucked a treasure of exquisite color and shape from the guarding tendrils of green grass, or from the gracefully extended fingers of a sentinel oak.  I know what I do is wrong: if everyone followed suit, what would be left to marvel at as green turns gold, sky turns bold, air turns cold? But I am a leaf thief. I cannot help myself. 

I cling with desperation to the glory of autumn, wanting to hold it, to own it, to be the exuberance of magnificent hues splashed brilliantly across the hillside, of trees glowing from within like smoldering embers.  How can I contain myself when yellow comes in a hundred shades, sometimes half a dozen on a single leaf, when red creeps like lace from spiderweb veins to the serrated edges of emerald foliage, when luxuriant piles of orange fire spill across lawns beneath maples.

I collect and amass, and apply every idea to stop the decay: clear contact paper, paste, mod podge, wax paper and enormous books to press flat, to preserve.  Despite desire and determination I fail, again and again, to maintain the vibrancy, vivacity, vividness. Edges curl, red darkens to black, orange to brown, yellow to beige.  Contact paper obscures, mod podge glares, nothing, nothing can arrest the march from autumn bright to winter blight.  Even photographs seem not to be able to capture what the human eye experiences and I am left, as each new wind or rainy day strips branches bare, with the grim acceptance of defeat.

Yet I stopped, this year, time and again, to creep into yards, to revel in my senses, to experience autumn in a way I have not allowed myself to do for a long, long time.  While my collages, poor after-images of nature’s perfection, cannot hold these experiences, they will remind me of the time spent, the joys felt, the intense gratitude for the gifts bestowed in these heady weeks.  And you will likely see me next year, the impetuous leaf thief, stealing moments of sensory bliss.


  1. Beautiful. Thank you for helping me remember the bliss of fall!

  2. The colors of this season are truly wonderful. Glad to see you are enjoying them fully.

  3. You're welcome to steal all the leaves in our yard. Dad ;)

  4. Sorry, Dad. I don't pick up the brown and crispy kind. I have "people" to do that for me ;)

  5. I love this .... stopping to enjoy "moments of sensory bliss."