There is so much regularity in the seasons, so much that we expect and count on that adds comfort to our days and expected change to our lives. But this fall has been full of the unexpected for me. I saw things that I don't remember ever seeing or noticing before. Maybe I have just been watching with new eyes as I watch fall unfold before three little girls. But part of it has been how unexpected early snow storms and freezes effect the season. The maples and other trees that I usually think of as the most brilliant in the fall were not what impressed me the most this year. They were only starting to change when the first snow hit and they dropped all their leaves in a hurry beneath a string of storms, both snow and rain. (Never something we could build a leaf pile in.) The oaks, on the other hand, had more color and brilliance than I ever remember. The early, freezing temperatures brought on their color change in a way that surpassed anything in my memory. Their hardiness enabled them to not only withstand but be perfected by the cold. Amazing. Every time we step foot outside we keep stopping numerous times to pick up another oak leaf, and then another and another, or to stare at the oak tree in all its glory, literally glowing in the fading evening light.
And finally, we had a day that was not so windy that all the leaves had blown away, not so wet or snowy that you couldn't rake them, and lots of oak leaves and leaves from the last hardy maple and Kentucky coffee bean tree all over the ground just calling to us to rake them into a pile for all the kids to play in. Lots of laughter, jumping, leaves flying through the air, kids exploding from underneath the pile of leaves, rolling in the leaves, and even a little bit of contemplative sitting in the glorious pile before the energy levels had geared up. And then the beauty of these days was that the sun left, the chill returned to the air, and we all went inside with plenty of time to make dinner, eat and go to bed early.