The house we grew up in was an old farmhouse in the middle of the city. A red, two story box with green asphalt shingles and several add-ons on the back of it. It had an awesome attic, 3 bedrooms, plus a pretty cool (or scary!) basement and large backyard. It was home for the majority of our lives. The backyard was especially awesome because is was so deep. The previous owners were landscapers and had put in several rows of maple trees which were mature by the time we all were old enough to climb them. We each claimed a tree and would spend many summers scaling up and down them, building tree houses (which were just pieces of plywood laid out across two branches).
By the time fall arrived we hated those trees because we had to spend hours raking up the leaves and hauling them out to the street. A leaf blower? No such thing at the Gates House. It was metal rakes all the way baby! Not that it was all bad…we had some fun times too. Like when we would make leaf-lined paths curving and criss-crossing through-out the yard with a huge pile of leaves to jump in at the end. In our TV-deprived minds, we imagined we were at a carnival and this was an epic maze we had to follow. Our reward for reaching the end was a crunchy, colorful pile of joy to jump in and burrow under!
On occasion, when we were younger, we had the assistance of the little green trailer. Built by Dad, this small wooden trailer resembled a large wagon. We would pile as many leaves in as we could, then would lay on top of them to keep them from blowing out while Dad pulled the little green trailer to the street. Unloading was never much fun, but the ride back and forth was worth the work.
The smell of the leaves, the sound of the tractor, the crispness in the air, all are memories that come flooding back at the first glimpse of fall. It is bittersweet knowing that those times are past, but cherishing the bonds they created.