Heavy as a leaf

The decision was firm. We would not rake a leaf until every tree was bare.

After gravity had its way and the bulk of leaves lay on the ground, then we would get them all in one fell swoop (or is that two tired shoulders).

We forgot rain - two inches.

In the middle of the night, the heavens opened, washing the Milky Way down, turning stars into oak and maple leaves, which then formed new constellations on our lawn.

Leaves are heavy when wet. Raking soaked leaves is heavier yet. Two hours into it, stooped over a pile of leaves, my eye caught the movement of a beaver-busy squirrel. His paws, like mine, chock full of leaves. He raced up a pine tree, (truth be known, at this point, I wished all my trees were pine trees) stuffing his fistfuls of leaves into a forked branch. I watched his bushy tail make more than a dozen trips, a fur-ball freight elevator.

Leaf by leaf, he built his winter home.

Marveling at his energy, mine now spent, my eye ran 10 feet higher above the new nest. In the slimmest branches of a naked maple hung the remains of another nest.

It was made from string and grass. Built in warmer, leafier months, it was home to a pair of Baltimore orioles that I had seen and heard darting about in the spring. The green canopy offered living camouflage from soaring hawks and prowling cats.

Of a sudden, wet, brown leaves, metamorphosized. Such building blocks, such stout walls. My rake didn't get any lighter. My shoulders still were heavy from the work. But I seized the "sheer morning gladness" that so simple an object as a leaf, wet or dry, offered such shelter.

(c) Copyright 2000. The Christian Science Publishing Society

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