When I was a little girl in elementary school, I loved to collect fall leaves. I would use them in all sorts of crafts. My favorite use was ironing them between sheets of waxed paper to use for fall place mats. (I would glue the sheets of leaves onto large pieces of orange or brown construction paper). I don't know what my mother (or anyone else) thought of them. I thought she'd think they were beautiful (maybe they were--but my mental picture of them is a little fuzzy) and that I was creative. Thinking from a mom's perspective now. . . maybe she was happy for me to be busy? (I seem to remember I always had to either have a book or a project or something. I wasn't the sitting still kind of child unless there was a book.) Or maybe she thought about the mess. I don't know. I do know that one late fall, I arrived home from school to face a question: What is the smell coming from your room? It turned out to be a bag full of rotting leaves I had collected and then shoved under my bed for use later--and forgotten. I wasn't allowed to bring bags of leaves ito the house anymore.
I hadn't thought of these experiences for years. And then, last week, walking across campus I saw these leaves on the ground:
Something about the size (these are big leaves, like the ones from my childhood) and the shape (maple?) brought all the memories of my childhood leaf-colllecting rushing back. The nostalgia was enormous. How long has it been since I jumped in a pile of leaves, purposely stepped on them to hear the crunch, studied them for the perfect blend of color and shape, made something with them--even a table decoration? A long time. I'm glad I have the memories (and glad they come back), but sometimes I miss what is left behind, too.