Little Boy, Big Pile of Leaves
Yesterday I spent the day jumping into a pile of leaves with my three-year-old cousin, Zach. It was the very first thing he wanted to do as soon as I got to my parents’ house. I’d come up to help watch him, so I was prepared for little boy antics. I wasn’t aware that it was leaf raking day, though. Luckily I wore the right clothes for the job.
I arrived to receive very enthusiastic waves from the back porch, followed by a detailed report on the positions of all the near-by cats. It was very important. I thought I would get up the stairs and into the house to put my stuff down before going out to join them on the back porch, silly me. As soon as I made the front porch Zach was there and ready for the leaves. He ran up to the patio to show me his pile of leaves, pointing out all the other piles of leaves on the way. This was also very important. We decided on the pile down by the house, which was also his, instead of the one on the patio. I’m honestly surprised we didn’t lose him in this pile of leaves. It was easily an adult sized leaf pile, and he loved it. It started up by the tree and slowly slid down the hill towards the sidewalk. There were running jumps and slides and flips into this pile pretty much all day, with the occasional “Make the pile high again!” from Zach, directed first at my dad who was filling wheely barrels with leave to take to the mulch pile, and then at me. So I earned a blister on my wedding ring finger for raking leaves into a pile.
Do you remember when a pile of leaves was sufficient entertainment for an entire day? I had forgotten that to a small child this was pretty much the best thing ever. It seems like such a simple thing. You pile up the leaves, you jump in and toss them around for a bit and then do it all again. For me as an adult, after the third jump I was satisfied. I’d relived my childhood to a sufficient degree and enjoyed the fall festivities and was ready to move on. Zach, on the other hand, was very much still into it after the forth jump, the tenth jump, the 30th. He would have kept going until dark, I’m sure, and probably beyond with enough sugar fueling him. Two sweet teas will do that to a three-year-old. It’s amazing, really. It never got old for him. The leaves slowly disappeared around the pile as my dad cleared the yard and Zach was only ever worried about his pile. “He didn’t take my pile of leaves?” He would ask, very concerned while we pet the cats, or got a drink. “No, Zach, your pile is still there.”
When my sister got home that was all he wanted to do with her. “Do you want to play in my pile of leaves?” So Erin and I jumped in the leaves with him again and he thought it was the greatest. He would get this giant running start which amounted to nothing as he slowed down at the end to jump in, which was always more of a slide, really. But he was so pleased with the leaves up his shirt and in his pants and sometimes in his eyes. He was constantly pulling leaf bits out of his mouth, trying to grab them off his tongue. His shirt was a mess before noon, but as a little boy, he could care less. He had a pile of leaves, and that was the coolest thing ever.
He took a small break, towards the end of the day, only because we wouldn’t jump with him anymore. He played baseball with dad until his sisters appeared and then they saw the leaves. At nine and seven, Grace and Riley may have exhausted of the leaves sooner than Zach, but I kind of doubt it. They certainly weren’t giving up the pile to be on time for practice, though their mom kept telling them they would be late. We sat and pet the kitties while they played in the leaves, taking turns running and jumping in the leaves, then raking them back up into a pile so they could jump again. While Zach was totally into all jumping at once, the girls were more cautious and jumped one at a time, making the last person move out of the pile before the next one could jump. They played for half an hour, probably, before they absolutely had to go. Jackets came off and clips came out of hair as the leaves covered everything.
I picked up my husband late because I left late, losing track of time watching the kids in the leaves. As we brushed our teeth, my husband found leaves, still stuck in my hair, souvenirs from a day spent with a three-year-old and a pile of leaves which he may have liked even more than the giant fire truck my aunt brought over for him to play with. Do you remember when it was that simple to be happy? When a simple pile of leaves could totally make your day? When you could spend all day jumping and raking and jumping again, and not worry about anything but keeping the pile high and away from the cement? Let’s go back to those days, when life was simple and fun. Let’s find dead leaves in our hoodies for weeks to come and have a lovely fall, my friends.