I will leave no leaf un-turned. Yes, I'm obsessed with autumn leaves. I can't help myself, and of late I've been driving Frankie crazy. Every time I got outside, whether to retrieve the mail, or to simply enjoy a few minutes of fresh air I come back inside with a hand full of colorful leaves. All shapes, all sizes. I don't want to collect the leaves, I am compelled to do so.
Some years I'm worse than others, if, one year the leaves happen to be more magnificent in hues of red, yellow, orange, even a dozen shades of brown my books are soon bulging with leaves pressed within their pages and kept there for years until they disintegrate and turn to dust. I can't help myself.
This year the leaves have been a bit of a disappointment. Most of the trees leaves have not turned color yet, and after the weekend rain and wind storm a lot of the trees are pretty bare without have the opportunity for the leaves to turn at all.
Still, unable to help myself, each time I go out I scour the lawn, driveway and walks for colorful leaves. I stop, bend over and flip the ones upside down over, and often add it to the collection I already have in my hand. Yesterday was no exception. I came into the house with yellow and red maples, they were tiny, the largest perhaps three inches in length but perfect in shape and color.
I spread them out on a paper towel on the kitchen counter so they would dry.
Frankie: "Are you kidding me? More leaves? You're nuts, you know that don't you?"
Me: "...and, your point is?"
Frankie: "You don't need these, you don't know what you're going to do with them, and eventually they will fall out of a book and you will throw them away."
Me: (Sad and dejected) "I know."
(Insert moment of silence.)
Me: "Still, just look at them Frankie, look at the colors, even Crayola Crayons can't make these colors, artists can't blend their oils to these exact colors, my computer can't make these colors. Oh, we can come close, but these colors are perfection. Absolute perfection."
I gently wiped the rain off each delicate leaf. One was bright yellow with a brown tip, another was bright red, with a tear along on side, I took tape to hold it together. Another was yellow but had three circles in it, they were green with brown around their edges. How did that happen? Some kind of genetic abnormality I suspect. Still it was rare and unique. I was fascinated. I wanted Frankie to be fascinated, too.
She, of course appeased me, by pretending to be interested, (at least she didn't walk away). I left her standing at the kitchen counter and went back outside to stand up a plant stand the wind had knocked over. While I trekked back to the house I picked up small branches from a maple and willow tree the wind had deposited in my back yard.
Frankie was still standing at the counter, she had the spotted leaf in her hand. She looked like a kid that had been caught stealing a cookie from a cabinet. She sputtered and tried to regain composure.
Frankie: "WHAT? More leaves...you know what, old woman, you are nuts."
Me: (Sighing.) "I know, it's an illness."
Frankie: "What are your plans for the branches?"
Me: "I'm going to draw them. What are you plans for the leaf in your hand?"
Frankie: "Nothing, I'm just looking..."
Yes, there she was, just looking...that's how it starts...this illness...I was just looking, too.