“Daddy, can we make a pile of leaves and jump in them?” Annie and Emma are helping me clean up the backyard. After a week of low overnight temperatures my fig tree had dropped it’s leaves and I was raking them up to throw in the dumpster.
Growing up in Iowa, fall was my favorite season. Cooler days and nights sent the chlorophyll into retreat, revealing brilliant reds, yellows and golds in the maple leaves. When their colorful autumn show closed in late October and the leaves took their final bows, the resulting leaf piles were magnificent to kick through and jump in.
Here in Phoenix, October temperatures can still be 100 degrees. For the leaves on the trees, it’s business as usual. Not until late December or early January do trees start looking fall like. Until then, the only way we know winter is approaching is to watch the license plates change colors.
“Daddy, can we make a pile of leaves and jump in them?”, Annie and Emma ask again. I start to say no. I mean, really. Fig leaves? It doesn’t seem right. When’s the last time you heard someone reminisce about their childhood saying, “Fig leaves were my favorite. The boring browns and dull greens. Fabulous.”
When it comes to leaf piles, I’m pretty sure fig leaves aren’t regulation.
“Daddy, can we? Make a pile and jump in?” Annie and Emma persist. I look at them and feel sad. Sad that they have so little to work with. My kids want to jump in a pile of leaves just like Linus in “A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving” and the best I can do is a shallow pile of pathetic fig leaves. What kind of Dad am I?
Then I realize that Annie and Emma don’t care about the leaves. They care about the moment. Taking what they can find in front of them and having fun with it. Twenty minutes ago it was a couple of river rocks they put in a plastic pail. Twenty minutes from now it might be a pretend tea party with their stuffed animals. Right now it’s a pile of fig leaves.
“Sure. Why not?”
God, thanks for the privilege of learning from my kids. They teach me the value of the present moment.
That it’s a pile of fig leaves isn’t important.
What’s important is that they jump.
“This is the day that the Lord has made. Let us rejoice and be glad in it.” – Psalm 118:24
Todd A. Thompson – January 26, 2006