Although I treasure the beauty of each new season, fall and spring are my particular favorites. Flowers, shrubs, trees, berries, fruits, and vegetables all burst with color at this time, turning the landscape into a virtual kaleidoscope.
When autumn trees explode in their last hurrah of yellows, reds, and oranges, I am reminded of some of my happiest childhood memories. As a kid, I loved helping to rake the backyard leaves into massive piles. My brothers and I would dive into the sea of crunch and color and take turns burying one another in a leaf pile. I can still feel and sense the magic of being enveloped in leaves, deeply inhaling their smell and absorbing the intensity of their colors as sunlight filtered through them. I must have only done this a small handful of times when I was small, yet the memory of it all was so satisfying and remarkable that it is with me still today. I would dive and bury myself in a leaf pile now if it weren’t for my age and the worry that my neighbors would think I was insane. Honestly, though, what if? Would it be so ridiculous to see a senior citizen reliving her past, lying on the ground while her husband buried her in leaves?
Years ago, I watched a PBS fundraising presentation of author Leo Buscaglia, giving a lecture on LOVE. Leo is a lover of everything and talked about teaching his students to not miss an opportunity to live in and love the magic of every moment we get. He would make his students gather up leaves and dump them on the floor of his living room and walk-in them, smell them and bask in their glory. At the time, I thought, what a mess to clean up! But now I get it, and I can only love him more for it. Why not do such a thing? It would be an opportunity to make a beautiful memory of a fleeting gift from nature. And as for the mess, that would be fleeting too. Making time to savor the beauty of something is not only a way to heighten your appreciation for nature’s magic, but it’s also a way to love and nurture yourself. I, for one, feel healing and power when I surround myself with Mother Nature’s wonders.
I suspect my love for fall leaves has been inherited from my mother. For as long as I can remember, she was a leaf-presser. All of the biggest, heaviest books on her bookshelf contained pages stuffed with leaves and flowers sandwiched between sheets of paper towels. She would press the leaves then later craft them into pictures that she framed.
She didn’t restrict this hobby to just pressing fall leaves. She also pressed flowers from her perennial garden as well as charming little weeds. Over the years, she and I have visited her book-pressed leaves many times. We’ve mined them to craft notecards or pictures or just look at and reminisce about favorite trees she and Dad planted in the yard. In her dining room, there is a wall with six large framed pictures featuring her leaf-designed art.
Today, it is chilly, and fall colors are at their peak on my street. I will walk down to the little park at the corner and collect some of the prettiest leaves I can find, then press them in her honor. I will carry on her tradition of keeping the best pieces of fall preserved to enjoy throughout the year. I will try to recall the species of trees each leaf comes from and use some for crafting. Lately, making nature impressions in clay has become one of my favorite activities.
Fall is only here a few short weeks, so grab your loved ones and get out there to wallow in it. Toss and shuffle through the colorful leaf confetti that nature has blessed us with. Collect some of the best leaves you can find, and press them for crafting. Make a point of learning what trees the leaves come from. Make leaf mandalas, leaf crowns, leaf rubbings, or press them in clay to always remember them. Savor this spectacular seasonal celebration of life and color before all becomes dormant. It will all be gone way too soon.
For a fun fall activity, check out my Activities section of the blog to learn more about making leaf mandalas. This project can be done anywhere, by anyone, at any age, with leaves or any natural materials of your choice. This week’s Recommended Read is on The Leaf Thief by Alice Hemming, illustrated by Nicola Slater.