Careless Leaves

the carelessness
of leaves

Gregory Longnecker,

Most front yards in my Portland neighborhood are a sea of leaves scattered helter skelter; mosaics in shades of ochres, browns, yellows and burgundies, arrayed in various sizes, shapes, and arrangements.

In the pool I swim in the falling rain amongst floating yellow and brown maple leaves. They stick to my skin until I can wriggle free.

On dry and windy days leaves fly up and around in dancing eddies, rising and falling every which way. Dry leaves blow against our doorstep, one by one making their way into the house when the door opens, unwelcome but insistent.

Mornings, I wake early and gaze out the darkened windows at shadowy outlines of the tall evergreens that sway in the wind or stand ghost-like in the fog. As light slowly dawns the dark orange of the nearby maples dawn too, revealing their glory even in the weak light. Rain falls, heavy or light, straight down or sideways, or in a mist that comes from no direction at all. The sky lightens and my attention shifts to the clouds, checking their density and depth, how close to the ground, the tone of grey, silver or coal.

As the day opens I try to seize rare moments of thin sun that are not to be passed up, and make a dash to walk in the light. I marvel at the man raking his lawn, undaunted by his Sisyphean task as leaves continue to fall all around him.

The seasons run through their unending cycles, and I too run through my own ebbs and flows of embracing and resisting. I feel deeply those 11 degrees of latitude that I left behind for this life of family love, retirement, and transformation. I make plane reservations for points south, confident that some day I’ll be as careless as those falling leaves.

18 thoughts on “Careless Leaves

    • Mostly I want to be where my kids and grandkids are, and I know that you know that draw as well. Too bad we couldn’t have kept a little pied de terre in the south! Maybe I’ll become a snowbird yet.
      And you are always welcome here! Thanks for reading Paul. (Have you taught the kid Chinese Checkers yet?)

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      • I do too; unfortunately my children (and their children) live 2500 miles apart from each other. Sophie’s choice. My heart goes out, now, to my parents who never got to live near any of their grandchildren; and before them, to my paternal grandmother, whose children also had the wanderlust and raised children far away. At least I’ve broken the pattern with half my family–that’s not nothing!

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        • No, that’s something huge!! It’s a wonderful thing. I grew up without nearby grandparents – saw them once a year. After seeing how Alan grew up in the same community with grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins, and their close relationships, I wanted that in my life, for my kids. It was a stroke of luck that they both ended up together, and in Portland, as opposed to… say Omaha or Detroit!

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  1. Ah, leaves. I saw a photo today from Raleigh, with the mountain ridge of leaves lined up along the curb waiting for the city’s giant vacuum. I do not miss that raking. My family home here (in the PNW) no longer has leaves to rake, after a childhood of raking the big leaf maples, that tree gone now. It’s the freaking fir needles that get tracked into the house. Wait! You swim outside? You think you’re in Caleeforn I A?

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    I love every word, every photo, every nod and subtle reference. All of it. All at once. This is beautiful and brilliant and even if you don’t see it yet, I feel like I’m witnessing a kind of falling in love. Lean into it, my friend ♡

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  3. This was a really beautifully written one. I just read your other post about your Writers Group (road trip etc April 23) and this was next on my list — you say you long to be as careless — in a good way of course — as the falling leaves … to me it seems you achieved that! For me in this post the leaves were people and I kept thinking like each of you was a leaf doing all the different beautiful things. love you so much my luminous leaf lady xoxo

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