Happy Autumn – Sunday – Family Day!
I grew up raking leaves and jumping over and into leaf piles on Sunday afternoons. Then later raking them all into a pile over to where the summer vegetable garden had been and setting the pile on fire to burn them. Wonderful for improving the following season’s garden soil. One of the most delightful scents of the year — burning leaves. Crisp chilly days and the scent of burning leaves filling the air, an annual fall tradition and harbinger of the rapidly approaching holiday season and winter to follow.
I miss that. Many probably do not know the soul-comforting smell of burning leaves in the autumn air anymore. Nowadays the distinctive scents of autumn are gone, replaced by the endless droning of leaf blowers. Not the same to be sure, but as long as there are leaf piles to bury someone in, and to jump in and over until the legs call for a stop, the back yards and front yards on a crisp autumn day can still be loads of family fun.
Autumn is a magical time of year. Shorter days. Chilly nights just right for a warming fire and sitting by the hearth. A refreshing cider or hot chocolate in hand. Healthy exercise. Tossing a football and Frisbee, ultimately falling into the leaf pile with each catch. A marvelous fall day to gather up all the family and head outdoors for a fun day of leaf raking – jumping – burying – leaping – collecting. Fresh air and exercise! And quality family time together, learning about the seasons and cycles of Mother Nature.
There are many old superstitions and beliefs about catching leaves in the fall. Some folk believe it is good luck to catch a falling leaf. Some even say that if you catch a falling leaf in autumn that you will have a whole month of good luck. Others say that you should make a wish if you catch a falling leaf. There’s another school of thought that says if you catch a falling leaf on the first day of autumn you will not catch a cold all winter!
Pagan Europeans and some native North American cultures revered the oak tree and its leaves as sacred. Opinions differ on the professed benefits that accrue from catching falling leaves, whether on the actual first day of autumn or anytime during the autumn season. Personally, I just think it’s fun, and made even more so on a windy day. “There it goes!”, and the chase is on.
Yet another tradition holds that you must keep the captured leaves until new green buds appear on the trees in the spring. Only then can you safely dispose of them without the risk of ruining your fortunes. As for me, I like to press them in heavy books with weights on top, and then coat them in Modge Podge, a clear coating to preserve and enjoy them all thru the year. If you do that, be sure to catch them sooner than later, as newly-fallen leaves, more soft and supple to the touch, preserve and hold onto their colors much better than do the dried up, crinkly ones.
Here are some neat leaf projects to do with the little ones — Helping to teach them how to sew with Sewing Patterns on Leaves, Making Leaf Foxes, Leaf Chalk Art, and Making Fall Leaf Prints . And here is information on How To Preserve Fall Leaves. Check out and follow my Pinterest Boards for more ways to preserve autumn leaves, fun projects and information. And more things “Autumn.”
So round up the family and head outdoors for a day of leaf-themed play. Rake leaves. Gather and collect the most beautifully colored leaves and save them to press. Catch a Frisbee and fall into a leaf pile. See who can jump the biggest pile. Make some Leaf Art. And most of all — have fun! The glorious season of autumn only comes once each year and is soon gone, giving way to winter. So let’s enjoy it while we can.
Today’s Family Sunday writing featured the artwork of one of my favorite country artists, John Sloane. Visit his John Sloane Art Page for upcoming calendars and more information.
Thanks as always for visiting! And have a wonderful Family Day! — Jim (and Red!)
ps — work on a special Christmas holiday short story featuring Little Red Bear and some of his friends is coming right along. Watch for it in December!