I haven't written about Dad for a while. Yet, I think of him daily, especially now that it is autumn, his favorite time of year. So many small things remind me of him. A few days ago, my teaching partner and I took the kids out to the field behind the school and we played beneath the trees, throwing handfuls of yellow leaves in the air. As the leaves rained down on my head, I thought of Dad.
I remember when we were kids, Levi and Sarah and I would help rake all the leaves from the giant maple tree in front of our house. Dad would give us rides in the wheelbarrow on top of a mound of leaves. We had leaf fights, buried ourselves in leaves, stuffed leaves in our clothes. And that scent of sweet decay, that crinkly sound, the richness of color - these things make me think of him.
In October of 2000, Dad wrote me an email saying "I begin each day with an overwhelming sense of expectation and excitement. I simply sense that I am leaving one plain behind and moving onto the next." That was one of Dad's amazing gifts - the ability to see possibility, not just in the obvious blossoming of spring, but in the necessary decay of autumn. He ended his email with the following poem.
It is autumn here.
The defoliated trees look frightened
at the edge of town,
as if the train they missed
had taken all their clothes.
The whole world in unison is turning
toward a zone of nakedness and cold.
But me, I have this strange conviction
that I am going to be born.