By Bruce Stambaugh
A day after I cleaned up the leaves from our yard, the rain, the wind, and gravity conspired to undo my work. It was to be expected, especially when a grove of deciduous trees surrounds your house.
I sat by the office window and watched the spent leaves rain down like snow showers in January. A gusty northwest breeze twirled the faded leaves every which way, performing independent pirouettes in a splendid ballet. Their curtain call played out on the front lawn.
I’ve seen this performance before of course. Every year about this time. However, this fall’s frolic struck anew at the melancholy that I felt about the scene, the season, my station in life.
Perhaps the steely sky with its dense layer of leaden clouds set the mood for the day. It couldn’t have been the Indians loss in the seventh game of the World Series or the lack of sleep from watching the previous week’s worth of late-night contests. When you’re a Cleveland sports fan, denial is an all-consuming trait that blinds and dulls one’s wits.
Yet, here I was in my stupor enjoying the unfolding act, blah as the elements were. The living picture painted before me seemed just about right for the occasion, and definitely for the season.
I’m sure I wasn’t the only one hung over from too much adrenaline-driven loyalty and sleep deprivation. However, I couldn’t help but sense that my malaise was so much more than that.
Seasonal changes do that to us, especially as we age. Like the falling colorful leaves, the Greatest Generation is also fading fast. They bequeath their burdens to their progeny, unworthy boomers who think they have changed the world for the better when it’s clearly the other way around.
Perhaps it was because my wife was still fulfilling her autumnal obligations in Virginia. Only the delicious day before I had taken lunch and supper alone on the porch. I missed her company and her cooking.
The blustery day wore on as dreary days can do. But in the process, a slow metamorphosis transpired. I would have noticed it earlier had it not been for my manly self-pity.
Patches of blue began to divide the gray cotton rolls roiling overhead. Even the wind subsided, providing an intermission to the leafy operetta. I began to take notice, to think outside myself, to seek the wisdom of others through writings and paintings and photos.
I called my friend Dan, who only recently had lost his father. I had missed the viewing and wanted to visit to express my sympathies. He invited me up to his place in the early evening, which I accepted.
Dan wanted me to arrive about an hour before I showed up. I wanted to shoot the sunset first. The sky had significantly cleared by early evening except for a few high clouds, the kind that often makes for a splendid sunset. Just when I thought the western drama had waned, a fiery encore danced across the sky.
I stopped the car just a quarter of a mile from Dan’s. His observant wife Anna saw the vehicle and figured it must be me. It’s a good feeling when your friends know you so well. They welcomed me into their humble home, and I gleefully shared my photos.
When the clock struck 8, I knew it was time to leave. Otherwise, I’d likely still be there, conversing and listening and laughing, though life had fallen heavy upon us like the morning’s leaves waltzing to the grass.
© Bruce Stambaugh 2016
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