Riding home from Muskegon this morning, feeling happy I finally got my hair trimmed, I am relaxed and enjoying the vivid greenness of an early Michigan September. It is like a tunnel on both sides of the highway, and everything seems to be sparkling. An occasional maple is beginning to show signs of color, and I know that a wealth of beauty of color awaits us in a few more weeks but for now the richness of green is everywhere. There really aren’t that many cars on the road today. Most of the tourists have finished their vacations and we are left with the local people, doing their weekend shopping.
Looking ahead at the season that will be changing I am reminded of the way it used to be when all of the many brightly colored leaves would come floating down. We lived in Muskegon in a heavily covered area of mostly oak trees, and we had two city lots. When the leaves started to fall my father would start to rake. He raked and he raked. The piles of leaves were so much fun for all of the kids in the neighborhood. We would burrow thru them, shrieking with laughter, scattering them as we went, and then having to pile them back up again.
But there was one major difference. All of the leaves had to be burned and the smell of them permeated our neighborhood for weeks. The heaviness and thickness of the odor of burning leaves still sticks to me to this day. I don’t remember anyone bagging leaves at all, no, they had to be burned. The whole block was covered with smoke for weeks and no one seemed to be bothered by it. At least the idea of it was just something that had to be done every year. It was a major job. But I am sure that the asthma sufferers complained because it actually became hard to breathe. I don’t know in what year people started bagging and quit burning but it was after I grew up.
But the fun of the diving into a huge pile of leaves also sticks with me to this day. I still picture my dad raking and raking, smoke swirling all around the neighborhood. It would get dark, and I still can see the piles of burning leaves in my mind. He was a hard worker and so he did what needed to be done. Now we have lawnmowers with baggers, and we ride on them and lots of people think that it is fun to do that also. The atmosphere is better for the bagging and I don’t smell smoke when I go outside at night. But it was another time and another place and progress is now upon us.
But it is also good to look back to another time and to our childhoods and remember the good times.
Have a great September!