Sunday, October 21, 2012

Autumn at Havens Park

Our trees here in northeastern Kansas had very little color until the start of October. The change was a gradual one at first, as the pictures below reveal. Once we had that first bit of color, a period of rain and high winds caused the trees to lose their leaves quickly. Some years are more colorful; this one has been less so because of the reduced amount of moisture that we have had since last winter.

When I was younger, I used to be relatively oblivious of the seasons. One sensory memory I have of autumn as an early teenager, however, is the smell of the fallen leaves in Maryland. My father was working at Fort Meade at the time, and we lived close to the fort in a community called Glen Burnie. The older part of the city had more trees than the new housing area where I was living. A friend and I used to walk to the theater in downtown Glen Burnie. Whereas the mall theater showed the current releases, including Zulu during the mall's opening weekend, the theater downtown showed art films like Ecco and previously released features like Lawrence of Arabia. A bit farther from the theater lived a girl that I had a crush on in seventh grade. I sometimes rode my bicycle through her neighborhood in the hope of getting a glance at her house and maybe of her. Her boyfriend at the time approached me in one of the hallways of our junior high one afternoon after school, and we pushed each other around, and maybe exchanged a couple of punches, before we were sent to the office of the vice-principal and paddled on the rear once he called our parents. The vice-principal's wooden paddle, like those seen in the movies, had holes cut into it so that it could travel through the air faster. In any case, I remember the smell of the fallen leaves as I rode my bicycle through the older parts of the city that autumn.

Now, I try to enjoy each season, regardless of how hot the summer may be or how cold the winter may be. As someone who regularly reads the obituaries and who has friends who were my age or younger when they died, I have come to realize that each day is precious. Millais was trying to express the transitory quality of life in his painting Autumn Leaves.