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Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Dragonscale Leaves, and Other Reasons I Love Fall

Photo by Micha L. Rieser, wikimedia commons
When I was little, we had HUGE old maple trees in front of our house, and they all dropped their leaves together, carpeting the entire yard in red and gold and russet-toned sunsets. My sister and I would rake them all up, and play ghost in the graveyard with our friends in the neighborhood, while wearing hooded sweatshirts -- the hoods cinched up so tight we only had enough room to see from one eye at a time, a skill which would later come in handy during the cold North Dakota winters.

Inevitably, my father would get tired of the mess of leaves in the yard, and one weekend we'd finally have to give up our games, and do the real work of raking the dry and crumbling leaves to the curb for collection by the village. The piles (usually a pair, on either side of the walk) would be as tall as I was, and three or four feet wide, covering the entire grassy area between the sidewalk and the road.

After my father thought the job was done, I'd shape them with my rake, into a hump and a long neck and turn the immense piles of leaves into dragons, necks and tails curling, with a nook for me to nestle into. Technically I wasn't supposed to be playing so close to the road. But it was a really REALLY slow street. No one drove down it, unless they lived there. So for days, while we waited for the town to come by and suck up the leaves with their monstrous vacuum truck, I played with the dragons, sitting beside them under the bare trees, imagining long conversations about flying and mountainous volcanoes. Until one day, I would wake up, and they'd be gone. Flown (or blown) away.

Maybe this year, the dragons will come again. There are certainly leaves enough!


8 comments:

  1. Dragon leaf piles sound totally awesome! We're pretty much restricted to birch trees up here--they don't have the gorgeous big leaves that make for great piles.

    I guess we make up for it with snow and ice sculptures in the winter!

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    1. I used to make dragons in the snow, too -- Dragons should be for every season! ha. I've seen pictures of some of the ice sculptures you Alaskans have made happen, and man, I have to say, they are amazing. Did I ever tell you I wanted to go to college in Alaska? I had my heart set on UAF before my mother finally put her foot down. At least you guys have trees -- North Dakota had none! Those were very strange years without any real fall at all.

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  2. Dragon leaf piles are pure genius, and dragons for any season are always appropriate. Lived in CA for a couple of years, and the lack of seasonal change was surreal. Vermont autumns and winters, though, were spectacular.

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    1. I can imagine! I live in upstate New York now (again), and I LOVE the fall. I really missed it while I was elsewhere. I think we had two maple trees on campus in North Dakota, but they didn't really have time to turn color properly.

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  3. Smart girl! What a cool story. Thanks for sharing.

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  4. Awesome idea! I also like to make shapes out of the autumn leaves but our supply is pretty limited so I'm restricted to names and other forms like hearts etc.

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    1. I hear you. I kind of wish I did not have QUITE so many leaves to rake this year. ha.

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