The Ottumwa Courier

Columns

April 13, 2013

'Leafing' through the memories

As I walked to my car on my dinner break the other night, the smell of burning leaves filled the air. And I loved it.

That scent took me on a trip down memory lane. Even though spring is finally on its way, the first memories to fill my mind came from the fall days of my youth. Visions of giant leaf piles ready for jumping (we had a huge yard with no shortage of trees, including a walnut tree) initially came to me. I remembered my brothers carrying me in the garbage cans full of leaves and dumping me into the pile as well. My sister and I took advantage of the abundance of leaves and raked them into squares and rectangles with openings for “doors.” Yes, we built “houses” out of the leaves and brought out our Cabbage Patch dolls to play house. I vaguely remember burning some of the leaves in our driveway, which is why the scent invoked these memories.

Eventually, we started taking our leaves to the tree dump. That was quite an adventure. My dad would borrow a pickup truck from one of his friends, and we would load the back up. Then we would climb in to hold the leaves down; it was such a treat to ride in the back of a truck for me in those days, and I always looked forward to this part of raking. When we arrived at the huge compost heap, we would empty the mass of leaves out and and then sweep what felt like every last crumb out of the bed of the truck. My dad now has his own pickup, and he’s still careful to make sure the bed of the truck is completely empty before he heads back home, enlisting my brothers’ kids to help when they’re visiting.

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