Fall is here. It seemed to come almost out of nowhere. One day all the leaves were green, and the next they were red and yellow, and half of them were on the ground. Now my feet kick up all those loose pieces strewn along the sidewalks.
I forget how much I love fall. I love the cool days, as the trees look emptier and emptier by the hour and sway gently in the breeze. The wind blows through the streets, scattering the leaves across the road and into little dips or corners where they lie, trapped, restless. The hedges begin to drop their leaves as well, and soon they start to look naked. The houses that were normally hidden behind them suddenly find themselves exposed for all to see. The bare skeletons of the hedges seem to fit right in with the thin bars of the gate that leads into the fading lawn around the apartment, usually open and creaking gently on it’s hinges.
Fall brings back memories of our furloughs in Canada, the few times we happened to be staying in Ontario or travelling through BC. I think the trees were prettier there — or there were more of them. Fall reminds me of what Canada was for an eight year old, walking down sidewalks of a country that wasn’t really his own, but was somehow supposed to be. It reminds me of rushing out the door with coats on to run with my brother across the road and climb on the big tanks outside the armoury. To feel the cool metal of their hard shells and trace my finger over the glass of the tiny peephole with it’s spiderweb cracks running down through all the layers of the bulletproof glass. It reminds me of those wars we fought in, hanging off those armoured sides, firing pinecones out the gun, that happened to become grenades later if they needed to be — those wars that stopped for supper, or for two little boys’ bladders when necessity and desperation called us back to the house.
Now these memories come with each leaf that skitters along the sidewalk, as the cool air gnaws at my face and I find myself in the body of this twenty-one year old. I watch and listen to the kids that climb all over the school playground by our house, squealing with delight. Their fall coats hanging off them, like half-ignored mother’s attempts to keep her children warm. Their cheeks are probably pink like mine, their hands cool from the multicoloured bars they climb on and cling to. My own cold hands grip the blue metal of my bike handle bars as I pass them by, off to university where this twenty-one year old body belongs.
Fall is full of change. There’s something almost melancholy about watching the world, filled with its rusty reds and turmeric yellows begin to unravel before your eyes. I’ve kept a few red leaves in some vain effort to freeze time. Preserve, preserve. Change is beautiful. Can’t it stay like this forever? It never does. I suppose it wouldn’t be change if it did. Instead, once the leaves are all off and the colours rust into a earthy brown, there’s nothing left holding back the next change. And then before you know it, the leaves are covered in a blanket of white, there to stay until spring.