To run through drifts of leaves

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It was October again… a glorious October, all red and gold, with mellow mornings when the valleys were filled with delicate mists as if the spirit of autumn had poured them in for the sun to drain — amethyst, pearl, silver, rose, and smoke-blue. The dews were so heavy that the fields glistened like cloth of silver and there were such heaps of rustling leaves in the hollows of many-stemmed woods to run crisply through.

Lucy Maud Montgomery (1874–1942), Anne of Green Gables, 1908

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The house is silent. Outside, falling leaves tick against the roof and windows like rain. No wind blows, but leaves are loose on their boughs, and a mysterious, swollen atmospheric pressure pops them loose, as if by magic.

I never rake fallen leaves. Wind sculpts them for me in drifts along garden sheep-fencing in crevices of the woodpile, against the adobe foundation of the garage, around the roots of lilac bushes south of the kitchen. I can smell them through the open window, pungent, decaying, wistful. A light rain commences, instantly catalyzing autumn redolence, especially the elm leaves carpeting the ground in front of the portal. Mocha, white, and beige, they gleam with an impeccable iridescence, like scales of radiant fishes.

.Just before dark, the leaves will emit a silvery glow reminiscent of peacock finery. Jaggedy teardrop shapes, timed in fluorescence, delicate veins vivid in sterling relief, the argentine ripples caused by wind make them glitter like moonlit sea swells. Bit by bit I crush this perfection, tracking through the leaves with my wheelbarrow full of firewood.

John Nichols (b.1940), The Last Beautiful Days of Autumn, 1982



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