Posted tagged ‘walks to school’

“Autumn flings her fiery cloak over the sumac, beech and oak.”

October 7, 2013

The weather is quirky. One minute it is dark and gray then the next is sunny. The house is cold while outside is warm. Showers are predicted for later. On my way to breakfast, I noticed many leaves had fallen. Piles of yellow were on the road and sidewalks. I thought it strange. Many trees have yet to change color while others are almost bare. My oak is still green.

Nothing was more enticing than the piles of leaves in the gutters next to the sidewalk curbs on my way to school. I’d kick through the piles and spread leaves all over the side of the road. The dry leaves on the bottom made a crunching sound while the newest fallen leaves on the top always seemed a bit damp and filled with morning. Most of them were yellow leaves. The trees were spaced beside the sidewalk edge. In summer the sidewalk was shady; in winter it was bare and open to the wind. The sidewalk was a straightaway to school. From the top of the small hill I could see to the railroad tracks and once there I could see the front lawn of the school building, but I couldn’t see the statue. It was too far off the road. I never minded that walk except when it rained. That was when the straightway seemed to go on forever. If I had known how perfectly descriptive a word it was, I would have said I plodded my way home.

The Cape has few sidewalks. Only the oldest parts of some towns seem to have them. My town has a few which slope and have cracks. None of them have curbs. No one kicks leaves.

I remember my dad and all the other dads standing on the side of the road near the curb burning piles of leaves. By then the leaves were curled and brown. They burned easily. All of us kids stood near the fires and watched. Our clothes afterwards smelled of fire and burning leaves. It is still one of my favorite smells, one of my favorite memories.

“Bittersweet October. The mellow, messy, leaf-kicking, perfect pause between the opposing miseries of summer and winter.”

October 25, 2012

Mornings this time of year are chilly but not yet cold. I could easily see Gracie’s breath when she was sitting on the top back step surveying her yard. She looked more like a steam engine than a dog. When I went to get the paper, I saw my neighbor, and we chatted a bit. Both of us agreed winter is out least favorite season.

When I was a kid, on mornings like today, we used to pretend we were smoking cigarettes and blowing out the smoke. We’d hold the pretend cigarettes in pretend cigarette holders between our fingers, and in exaggerated gestures we’d take puffs and let out the smoke. Our conversation was lah-di-dah. I think a young Bette Davis would have recognized us.

This time of year my mother and I would argue about what I’d wear to school over my uniform. She wanted me warm in the chilly mornings for the walk to school so she insisted on a jacket, useless in the warmth of the afternoons. I knew I’d shove the jacket into my school bag or tie it around my waist for the walk home. I wanted to wear a sweater. We’d go back and forth and many mornings my mother just gave up. Her parting words were, “Don’t blame when you get cold.”

Cool summer mornings are my favorites but mornings this time of year are a close second. I love the way the sharp sunlight stabs through the leaves picking and choosing places to shine. The light is brightest at the end of the branches facing the house. The rest of the tree is in shadow. Maybe it’s a metaphor for this time of year.