Shuffle Season

Good news — Shuffle Season is upon us.

Shuffle Season is that rare, all-too-brief time of year when the trees have dropped some — but not all — of their leaves. There is color in the canopy of leaves above and color on the ground and sidewalks below. And when you reach a stretch of leaf-covered sidewalk, the temptation to shuffle your feet through those drying leaves, to hear the rustle and crackle and crunch, and to kick some leaves into the air and let your inner kid loose, is irresistible.

I’m just old enough to remember when people routinely raked their leaves into leaf piles, let their kids play in the piles for a bit, and then raked the pile to the curb and burned the leaves. The authorities ultimately outlawed the burning, but I remember liking the distinctive autumnal smell of those burning leaves. The specific spicy smell is no doubt stored deep in my amygdala.

I’m too old now to play in leaf piles, but I can still enjoy Shuffle Season and those dried sidewalk leaves. You can, too.

Leaf Stripes

Most of the trees at Schiller Park have long since lost their leaves, but these two little trees on the south side of the park held on to their brightly colored companions until the bitter (cold) end. Then they coordinated their leaf falls so the leaves would form neat parallel yellow stripes on the grass and sidewalk that we saw as Betty and I walked by this morning.

The leaf falls must have been sudden and recent, because the leaves haven’t yet been scattered by the cold breeze, by frolicking dogs, or by little kids who just can’t resist shuffling and kicking their way through the pile. For now, though, it’s a pretty little scene in our beautiful neighborhood park.