We went from right before the prime leaf-watching time to well past the prime, all in a day or two. This is not fair. In fact, this is sort of an outrage. To whom can I go to file a complaint?

My earliest memory of colorful autumn leaves is as a baby, having a fallen leaf put into my hand by my parents and looking at it like this was the first time I’ve ever seen a leaf.

It was the most interesting thing I’ve ever encountered, shaking it a little, then sticking it into my mouth.

Technically, that’s a memory of my younger sister’s first encounter with an autumn leaf. But parents have patterns, so I figure that if Mom and Dad risked sticking a leaf right off the ground into my sister’s hand, they surely would have thought nothing of letting me clench my big mitt around a leaf stem.

It might even have been a leaf that the dog just stepped on. Parents weren’t all that careful in those days. Society’s worrywarts hadn’t yet made up their list of things parents shouldn’t do to their kids.

Since I would have been an infant when my parents gave me the leaf, I’m pretty sure I would have looked at it curiously and have shaken it because, at that point in my life, I was seeing just about everything for the first time.

And, let’s face it –– if I had a leaf in my hand at that age, it would have gone into my mouth. As a baby, that was my job.

Why bring it up?

Now I told you that stolen memory because maybe it helps explain why to this day autumn leaves fascinate me.

As a child, I dove into the piles of dried leaves that my father raked. If you see me moving my head and shoulders oddly in autumn it’s because I’m fondly remembering the scratchiness of leaf pieces caught between my shirt collar and my neck. Nostalgia is not easy.

Grown to an adult, I still take great pleasure in driving through the countryside, looking at the magical colors of the leaves in autumn. That car that you got behind the other day, the one that was moving slowly as the driver looked at trees through almost every one of the vehicle’s windows — well, I hope it’s not too late to say I’m sorry.

Getting to the point

Which brings me to what I really wanted to write about: What happened to the leaves?

Early in the week, I was gawking at them as they still hung colorfully on the trees. Late in the week, it rained, and the weight of the water apparently pulled many of them off the limbs. Over the weekend, the wind blew away the bulk of the rest of them.

As it stands now, the only way I can really enjoy the autumn leaves is to walk around with my head down, as though I’m sulking about this sudden leaf situation. I guess I am.

We went from right before the prime leaf-watching time to well past the prime, all in a day or two. This is not fair. In fact, this is sort of an outrage. To whom can I go to file a complaint?

There is no place to go, of course. The Department of Natural Resources doesn’t have an Office of Leaf Management. I’ve never actually seen a Mother Nature, much less talked to one. Going to God about it seems sort of selfish.

When we get right down to it, what is there to whine about? There is a beautiful carpet of leaves covering the ground in every direction you look.

I really should feel fortunate. I get to spend all this time writing about my appreciation of the beauty of autumn leaves at a moment in my life when I’m really just trying to delay having to go outside to rake them. Life is good.