root cellar

A lot to take in

Posted 10/14/20

“Down, down,yellow and brownthe leaves are fallingall over the town.”

 This rhyme has come back to me each autumn since 1971 when my kindergarten teacher introduced it to me and …

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root cellar

A lot to take in


“Down, down,
yellow and brown
the leaves are falling
all over the town.”

 This rhyme has come back to me each autumn since 1971 when my kindergarten teacher introduced it to me and my classmates during that first month of school in room 111. My mother had written the room number on my palm so I would not forget where to go on that overwhelming first day. I still recall it; you have to laugh to think such a redundant number could have been so hard to remember.

 I think back to my teacher’s perfect letters printed on the large notepad she placed on an easel. The students sat cross-legged around the easel and chanted the words to the rhyme over and over. I had on a plaid dress with white lace on the sleeves that itched and left a red rash around my wrists. We ran around the school’s front lawn to collect fallen leaves. We walked hand in hand along the town streets. I refused to zip my jacket because I did not know how. We pressed the leaves between sheets of wax paper and ironed them with help from Mrs. Lerner, the classroom aide. Then we hung the pages of leaves in the windows where they glowed like gems. Like stained glass.

 I remember this today as I am walking along the pavement listening to the brittle leaves crunch. They skitter along the street in the wind. And I wonder if kindergarteners still iron leaves in wax paper.

This year, the start of school has been so unprecedented due to the pandemic that I wonder what our first-time students think of it and am curious about what they will remember most. It is a lot to take in. Perhaps, with no prior experience, they just think all the new rules are the usual routine. To be sure, they will adapt, but I know they are losing out on typical educational experiences and carefree play, too.

 There is comfort, however, in the usual magnificence of the change of seasons. Despite what is going on around us, autumn parades in buoyant fashion, unfazed. The river valley is now charged with the glow of autumn. The shifting light flickers through all this color and the air has a heady, electric feel that fore-bodes the coming winter. It is a lot to take in. The Japanese knotweed along the riverbanks has turned to rust. The Michaelmas asters are purple luminaria along our roadsides. The sumac leaves are pink and orange and red flames. My mother always said she wanted a dress the flamingo color of sumac leaves in the fall. For myself, I think I would prefer a gown the color of the matted hay-scented fern now gone golden and rusty mauve with eerie hints of their former green shades.

 There is a lot to take in this fall as we watch the spectacle of our government during this election season. As we endure through the pandemic. Let us walk through the autumn beauty reminded of our guardianship and care for the earth and one another. Best wishes to all.


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