L is for Love, Laughter, and Leaves by Valerie J. Patterson

This past Sunday my husband surprised me with a lovely day trip that began with a picnic in the park after church.  Leaf Peeping season is upon us, and Steve knows how much I enjoy each new season, how much I enjoy looking at the beauty each season brings us, and how creatively charged I can get when surrounded by all that beauty.  So, he planned an excellent Leaf Peeping Adventure.

As we traveled from one county to the next, across three state borders, and through one forest, my mind drifted to one particular Saturday a couple Octobers ago . . .

I was making the long trip home to see my mom and sisters and nieces and nephews and I had 70 some miles to think and to admire God’s artistry during another beautiful fall season.  The scenery changed as I went from my country-like suburban setting into my mother’s city suburban setting, but one fact remained the same: seasons change no matter where you are.  No matter where you go.

Along Interstate 70 there are wide-open meadows and altering terrain that goes from level to mountainous.  There are evergreens and oak trees and maple trees and foliage galore.  All of it different from the last.  The sun that day poured through the windshield making my windbreaker too heavy for the trip and after I struggled out of it while maintaining my course, I tossed it to the passenger seat and opened the roof of my car.  Autumn plays tricks with humans causing us to think a bright sunny day is also a warm one!  While the sun was warming me, the air was filled with the pungent aroma of burning wood and I knew somewhere close by someone was heating a house with a good old-fashioned wood-burning stove.  I love those stoves.  I have a friend who heats her house this way and it always seems to have an inviting, cozy feel to it that gas or electric heat seems to not have.

As the highway gave way to township and county roads I pulled to a stop at an intersection and I looked out the window to see a brother and a sister hard at work raking what seemed like a thousand leaves from the green blanket that was their lawn.  I rolled the window down and a smile spread across my lips as I heard the girl squeal as her brother covered her with a pile of leaves.  She stood up, covered from head to toe in colorful decorations only nature can provide and I watched her run after him with an armful of leaves.  They laughed, making a chore into a game and I began to feel a little homesick for the days when I went to visit my cousin’s house and we would rake their massive front lawn and build a house with leaves.  Not a structure of any sort, just the outline of rooms we pretended had walls and doors and windows.  Ultimately though, the carefully laid “foundation” ended up in a huge mound with several giggling children beneath it.

The light changed at the intersection but the feeling of nostalgia lingered with me in the front seat of my car and I was thoughtful as I continued my drive.  Childhood really is a gift.  It’s a gift parents give by having children.  It’s a gift children get from God and all too many times we are in such a hurry to grow up – some of us are given no choice and some of us just feel the need to be independent.  By the time I turned onto my mom’s street I was feeling a sort of cross between happiness and a deep sadness for the childhood I left behind.  I pulled into her drive and honked my horn four times like I always do and the front door opened and out came my two youngest nieces, one of my nephews, and the family dog.  Hugs, kisses, and laughter were exchanged and a small breeze rustled the leaves, taking with it my sadness and leaving me in the warmth of the love of my family.

, , , , , ,

The sound of Steve’s voice brought me out of the past and back to the front seat of the car.

“Look at the peach-colored leaves on that copse of tress,” Steve said.

I looked where he pointed, gave his hand a squeeze, and blinked back an urge to cry.  I was right where I wanted to be–on a lovely trip with the one I love–but the past seemed to haunt me for just a wee bit of time that day.

Have you ever had one of those days?  Ones where you think so much about the past that it seems to become rooted in the present?  It’s good to recall memories.  They keep us young.  They enable us to recall simpler, easier times.  Sometimes they are painful and better left in the past.  The point is: they make us stronger.  I hope you have your own recollections of autumns past and I hope there are loved ones at the end that keep you firmly planted in the here-and-now.

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11 responses to “L is for Love, Laughter, and Leaves by Valerie J. Patterson

  1. Wow, Valerie. I’m just at my first cup of coffee and what a beautiful way to start the morning. I often take a moment, should take more, to be thankful I was born into a world with much love. Thank you for sharing yours.

    • Valerie J. Patterson

      I’m glad you enjoyed the blog today, Lavada. Thanks to Steve, I’ve been to see the fall foliage a number of times this season, and it has proven to be excellent fodder for a blog post! Hope you are enjoying the autumn among us! 😛

  2. What a lovely post, Valerie. You’ve reminded me to appreciate the beauty of autumn.

    I know what you mean about memories making you sad in the midst of really good times. Here in the UK, we have Firework or Guy Fawkes Night on 5 November commemorating the failed attempt to blow up King James the First in 1605. As a child, the family would meet at our house and we’d enjoy an evening of fireworks followed by potatoes baked in their jackets covered with dripping butter. My aunt, the youngest of the sisters, would always volunteer to light the fireworks as she loved doing it. She died at 32 when I was a teenager, so firework night is always bitter sweet. She was always lovely to me and supportive of everything I did. The distinct smell of fireworks lighting the skies, often through a foggy November night, and the taste of those potatoes in their jackets, always make me think of her and wish she was still with us.

    • Valerie J. Patterson

      Oh, Tricia, thank you sharing a precious memory with me. Tears sprang to my eyes when I read your aunt died at such a young age. She would probably enjoy knowing that the fireworks often cause her memory to be fresh in your mind and your heart.

  3. What a visual story. I was there with you and very much enjoyed the trip. Yes, I have had those times, when I’m so lost in a memory someone has to pull me out of it.
    Of course, I tend to daydream a lot, too. After all, we come up with the stories we write from somewhere, eh?
    Thank you for the wonderful walk through the leaves. I think my smile will stick around for hours because of your blog today. 🙂

    • Valerie J. Patterson

      Laurie, thank you for taking the journey with me! 😛 I confess, I daydream a *lot*. That’s our job, right! I hope you were right, and your smile stuck around for quite a while today!

  4. I can only echo the comments above, a beautiful post. I felt I was travelling there right with you. I never liked autumn – it was always a sign that summer was over and cold winter, which I hate, was coming. Since taking up art I can now truly see the beautiful in Autumn and I now enjoy it. Tricia – so tragic for your aunt to have died so young. Have many fond memories of childhood bonfire nights but the best is the taste of those hot jacket spuds eaten in gloved hands round the bonfire. Thanks Valerie.

    • Valerie J. Patterson

      Hi Kit! So glad you’re a fan of Autumn, now. She is a truly beautiful season! It seems as though you and Tricia share some very warm memories where baked potatoes play a part in the memory itself. I love flavorful memories!! 😛

  5. So lovely. It’s wonderful that you got to spend this time and have such a super memory to treasure!

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