Ruminations From the Western Slope

Ruminations From the Western Slope
Colorado River near Moab, Utah

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Lullaby of the Leaves

It’s the last day of October, my favorite month of the year. I spent most of the morning outside raking leaves, an annual routine that I seldom get tired of. Sometimes I use the electric leaf blower but most of the time I enjoy just swinging the hand rake back and forth, and piling the leaves manually on a big tarp before dragging them to the curb. Yes, here in Grand Junction we have curbside leaf cleanup. We all pile our leaves in cornrows on the street near the gutter and every Thursday a city truck with a huge suction device comes along and sucks up the debris leaving a clean street for at least a day or two.

Our two large cottonwoods, lone apricot and big red bud trees have only just begun to lose their leafy load so the best (or worst depending on how you look at it) is still to come. Nevertheless, I enjoy the process; the excuse to be outside in the fresh air smelling the October earth and feeling the lean toward winter. There is bitter sweetness in all of this because, as friends who know me will attest, I am not a winter person. After the leaves have all fallen, and daylight savings kicks in, and the major holidays have passed I grit my teeth, hunker down, and settle into a kind of hibernation.

But I glory in October when the city streets are afire in a kind of suspended animation and crackling calm before the storms; when the nearby canyons cloak themselves in shady coolness; when the neighbors are out cleaning roof gutters and pulling up the shriveled remnants of tomato and zucchini plants. In October I usually squeeze in a desert trip or two. I gorge myself on photography and sunlight that settles like glass over the valley. I buy pumpkins with my daughter and put scarecrow sentinels on the front porch.

October, for me, carries with it so many connections, mysteries, and heartfelt emotions. It is a golden thread that passes all too quickly into memory. That odd ephemeral month that puts the hot summer well behind us while winter beckons just over the ridges to the north.


  1. you forgot to mention the walnut tree. Of course, most of those leaves won't fall on the lawn... they'll fall in the gutter.

    648 views. Wow. I have about 20. If that.

  2. Well put. I couldn't have said it better myself. October is a magical month!