Sunday, September 28, 2008

::Leafy Reveries::

We have a predominantly oak-populated lot. When our very first autumn came around, I eagerly anticipated the glory of a fiery panoramic display in our yard. I was sadly mistaken. Oaks turn a muted yellow in the fall. What I didn't take into account, however, was the rapidity with which a forest transforms itself annually. Trees that were tucked into the forest's interior only two years ago are now basking in new sunlight and space. I am discovering bold maples along the edge of the clearing I never knew were there. They are stretching their branches outwards into the sunlight. This one maple, in particular, made itself known this year. And I am most happy to meet its acquaintance. Grow, grow, grow!

On this afternoon, our little maple seems to offer an invitation. We don our rubber boats and set off into the woods to explore. It never gets old. The moment the trunks and leaves block our house from view, it no longer feels like home. We are transported far away. We enter a land of gnarled and exposed roots, mossy fallen remains, deer-trodden paths through knee-high ferns...

Aidan and the older two are off. They romp ahead without looking back. Me and my Gabriel, we take it slow. Negotiating a way over networks of braided old roots and branches poses a challenge for tiny boot-laden toddler legs. Wanting to be like Dad, he takes possession of a large "walking stick" that only serves to inhibit him furthur. I hold his free hand and together we conquer the trail. At one point, all of us stop at the unexpected and arresting sight of a lone maple's discarded leaves. Surrounded by the soft, grey monotones of the oak forest, the deep red leaves are vibrantly conspicuous. They lie in a rough circle around the base of the tree. Many, still snagged in the bare branches of the trees around it. I had my camera in hand, but resigned myself to the fact that this was not something I had the skill to capture.

The moment our house comes into view we snap out of our leafy reveries. When we lie our heads down to sleep it feels like we have journeyed far. And in a sense-- perhaps the sense that counts most-- we have.