Guidelines: Time to Leaf

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By Simon Ambit

As the days begin to grow shorter and the mercury in the thermometer doesn’t have the ambition to climb quite as high up the tube as he did a month or two ago, we know that fall is upon us. Autumn is a beautiful time to be in Castle Country. The trees are painted in an array of color, the sky is crisp and clear and, typically, this is when we experience some of our best weather of the year.

With the garden harvests being preserved against the season, big game hunting in full swing, irrigation systems being drained for the winter, cattle being brought down to the lowlands and wood being split and stacked for burning; fall can also be a rigorous time with plenty of chores and preparation.

With the fall season upon us, the trees are also making preparation for the cold winter months. They shed their leaves in an effort to conserve energy and make up for the lessened amount of water they will take in during the cold, dry winter months. My children, however, have a much simpler explanation. They explain the shedding of tree leaves something like this: “The leaves fall off so we can make piles and jump into them!” It seemed like a sound enough hypothesis, so we put it to the test this past week. You know, I found out the kids were right!

We made a pile and knocked it down. We reconstructed and they flattened it again. We made a row of leaves and they plowed right through it. We made a wall and they turned it to rubble. They jumped and jogged, flopped and flipped, twisted and tossed, ducked and dove. They somersaulted and fall-vaulted in those leaves until they were amply worn out, and before we were done, everyone had leaves in their shirts and in their shoes.

Once all the fun is over and all the leaves have fallen from the trees, the leaves will be gathered, turned into mulch and most likely tilled into a garden spot. Jumping in the leaves is a win-win; it provides “piles” (pun intended) of cheap, family fun and it breaks the leaves down into smaller pieces, which allows the leaf to then release its organic compounds and chemicals more easily during the composting process.

So, this year, when you go out to gather the leaves, take some time to make a pile and jump in a couple of times, or even just enjoy the soft leafy chair for a moment. Get the kids involved and have a good time. One word to the wise, follow the admonition of Linus Van Pelt, given to his dear friend Charlie Brown: “Never jump into a pile of leaves holding a wet sucker!” Life is good, take time to enjoy the simple things!

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