Ah fall. That contemplative time of year. That time of year when we begin to reflect, and start to prepare for the coming winter by taking care of those outside chores before everything’s buried under a blanket of snow. Yard work, particularly raking up the leaves, is one of the big tasks. I’ve got 4 full-size maples in my backyard, and by the time we’re done, we’ve hauled about 50 bags to the curb.
After taking some Tylenol to ease my aching back, I began to reflect on the days when we burned our leaves. When I was little, the smell and crackle of burning leaves was one of those distinctive “fall” things. These days though, there are many restrictions as to when and where you can burn leaves. In town, it’s a definite no-no. But out in the country, it’s one of those smells that’s hard to miss. When my husband and I are out on the back roads taking a fall motorcycle ride, the smell of leaves burning, or just the scent of a good ‘ol bonfire, is one of the things that makes me smile underneath my helmet.
I sometimes wonder, what was achieved by the restriction on leaf burning? The obvious answer would be one of “protecting the environment”, but is driving to the store to buy a package of approved leaf bags that were manufactured with pulp and glue at a paper plant, shipped by transport trucks all over the province to those stores, only to then be brought home, filled up, then picked up at our curb by more trucks who then truck them to a recycling centre to be processed, a real improvement over burning?
Hmmm. Maybe it’s just the Tylenol talking, but I’d be all for a “return to the burn”.
But that aside, even though fall signals the end of the summer, it does put on a beautiful show. I’ve always wondered if the colours on display represent some sort of “grand finale” by the trees, the final big finish before they retire for the winter, or is it their colour-filled push-back at winter, a season where natural colour (other than white) is hard to come by?
Such pressing questions. I think I’ll head back out and fill some more leaf bags to clear my head, and fill my lungs with that crisp fall air, even if there’s no leaves to burn to add to the sensory experience.