Playing in the Leaves

Reader Contribution by Arkansas Girl
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We lived on a large parcel – ours was a nice corner lot. And by the way, a house on any corner is my ideal place, but be that as it may. Our house was surrounded by several of the largest trees I’ve ever seen in my life. I know one was a hickory “nut” tree from which we ate our yearly supply of its nuts. One was a horse apple tree which grew these big, green “apples” that oozed a milky, white substance. We were told the apples are poisonous and are only intended for horses.

Then, there were those other trees that I have no idea what they were, but at any rate, our little “shack” was surrounded by trees. So, during Arkansas’s lovely, colorful fall (or autumn) when trees shake themselves and their branches do all kinds of dramatic twists and turns, their excess weight falls to the ground. Now, I never could figure out why people rake their yards – in other words, why remove something that should be a natural part of the landscape? But, apparently the neighborhood custom is that “decent” homesteaders are suppose to keep their yards clean, and since we lived on the main road and since we wanted to be “acceptable” in the community, we had to rake every leaf that tumbled to the ground.

This wasn’t my favorite part of the season, but I did help clear the debris. We’d rake the brown grass and drag all the dead, brown leaves to the front yard and pile them right in front of the house. I surmise that we didn’t pile them in the back yard, because the grass was too dry and because it was too close to the dry woods.

When we had this big pile of leaves on the front lawn, it must have stayed there for a couple of months. We figured that at least we had cleaned the yard, but the “mountain” would add charm to the front part while we engaged ourselves in one of our favorite autumn sports – “jumping into the leaves.” That’s right. See, we would pile those leaves as high as they would go, then we’d stand way back, run as fast as we could and jump right smack dab in the middle of that soft, brown hill. Our objective was to get lost in the leaves, which the younger kids were successful at doing. I was too big to hide from much.


Then, after whatever length of time the leaves stayed for us to play in, we finally had to end the sport. Now, the last bit of fun was how to burn the leaves. We always tried to get the match as far up under the leaves as possible, so when they started burning, it would take forever for our little “leaf stack” to burn down. The ultimate excitement was standing back and watching and waiting for the smoke to rise up through the “chimney” – hopefully the center of the stack. As the smoke appeared and eventually turned to fire, we’d roar with laughter and whoop with screams of joy while a tinge of sadness dampened our spirits to see our favorite leaf-house go up in flames.We had an entire year to wait before we could play in the leaves again.

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