Are colors more vivid when you are young?
It certainly seems so to this Ol’ Boomer. I remember a pair of red maple trees in our front yard in Lewisburg, WV. I was 11 the first year we lived in that house on Court Street. There was nothing unusual about those two trees in the spring and summer, other than the grass beneath them was always a good spot to catch a few night crawlers for fish bait.
But when October arrived, the leaves on those maple trees began to resemble the Burning Bush on Mount Sinai. They were fiery red. Even at that young age, I was able to recognize their remarkable beauty. Then the leaves began to fall, and they fell, and they fell, and they fell some more.
What is it with maple trees? They have a million leaves and they fall in huge clusters. Often, I was assigned the task of raking and I swept the leaves into 4- and 5-foot pyramids. Then the fun began. Brad Stuart or another youngster on my block happened by, saw the huge leaf piles and the leaf-diving began. We took running starts and soared through the air like Superman before plunging unscathed into the piles. You could literally bury yourself beneath those large mounds of leaves.
Sometimes Brad and I would hide in the piles until an innocent wandered by, and then we jumped out and shrieked. If the frightened one was my younger sister, Johanna, she would rat me out to Mom and I was sent to my room – which wasn’t really that bad because I got out of leaf raking for the time being.
On a Saturday morning, if it wasn’t raining or blowing hard, Daddy would further rake the piles of dried, crimson leaves into the edge of the street and set them on fire. In October, the entire town smelled of burning leaves and I remember that as a good thing. The scent of burning leaves in autumn meant that hunting season was close by. It was a time of apple cider and football games at the high school. It was a time of hayrides and trick-or-treating. It was a fun time and a wonderful time to be a young man in a small town in West Virginia. And it all began with a pile of leaves.