Saturday, November 21, 2009

The Leaves

Perhaps they were tired of the usual, bored with the mundane annual routine. No doubt they had planned this for weeks, secretly convening beneath lunar light when the rest of the street was sleeping, tucked away in grey dens and brown burrows, twiggy nests and four-posters. The maples had thought of it first, whispering their mischievous idea to the oaks and the poplars whilst the pines and magnolias simply eavesdropped, for this did not concern them.
The plan was ingenious.
It made the old trees laugh.
For years, they had each shed their leaves in a casual fashion. It had always been thus, with the maples stepping off first, scattering their red-orange raiment on the autumn breeze like flaming sparks from a bonfire, and the oak leaves holding out till much later, as though reluctant to relinquish their lofty views up above all the others. A bit more mercurial, the poplars were always difficult to predict, for they adhered to a schedule known only to themselves. With a few leaves here, a bit more there, it had forever been a rather lazy process, almost nonchalant, and one that allowed the ear-muffed humans below ample time to catch up as they scurried around with their wood handled rakes. But not this year.
Meticulously organized, this colourful cabal executed its plan with precision.
On Saturday evening, the trees were full of leaves.
On Sunday morning, they were not.
Sometime in the deepdarkdead of the night - perhaps counting a prelude of three like a rainbow row of giggling children holding hands on the high dive preparing to jump - they all came down at once, leaving the cottage buried deep under crimson and gold. Up street and down, we all silently stood on our porches next morning, our various plans for the day visibly altered before our very eyes and, sighing, one by one, turned back inside to gather up coats and gloves, rakes and leaf blowers, determined to restore a semblance of order to the upturned landscape of our little world.
And later, from somewhere within one of those towering piles of crackling, fading colour, I could almost have sworn I heard an indistinct sound - a thin, strange echo of cheeky laughter.