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  • Brynne Betz

Friday Favorite (1); Leaf Critters

I don’t know when it first began, but it’s been a Fall tradition of mine for years now. Every time it happens, I’m amazed at how I still fall prey to the same little leaf critters, and how year after year I still ride the same wave of shock, to embarrassment, to laughing at the sheer ridiculousness of it all.

It starts when the leaves begin their transformation from summer green to yellow and orange and red. They flutter about hanging on for dear life, the wind blowing them like frantic mini sails, and eventually, as all of us do when things just get too much, they let go. Some flit to the dewy, grassy ground, others spin into a stream or to a river or a puddle, and the lucky ones, they get blown somewhere they can dry out in peace. No moisture to turn their transformation into rapid rot, no one to stomp on their soon-to-be brittle veins, no mice to use them for bedding or birds to use them for winter nesting, no, these lucky few are left all alone to transform into one of the rarest roles a leaf can ever be.

Unless you live in a very rainy place or a tropical place that has a very different definition of Fall, I’m sure you’ve seen these rare leaves. You just might not know them to be as rare as they indeed are. In fact, you might even be like most people, lumping all leaves together into one big necessary, but not particularly life changing, category. Truth is, just as eskimos have over 36 words for snow, no leaf is ever exactly the same. Especially when it comes to their roles. And there is one in particular that has the power to change, if not your life, then at the very least, your day.

Let me set the stage for you. You’re driving along, not too fast, minding your own business, maybe humming a little tune or going over the events of your day, your mind wrapped up with a thousand and one things, when out of nowhere, a little critter scrambles out in front of your car. Your foot slams on the break, your heart lodges in your throat. Did I hit him? I didn’t feel a thump. Where’d he go? You look all over and can’t see him, but you do notice the red face of the man in the car behind you, and the scrunched face of the woman who also stopped her car headed in the opposite direction, yep, and the people behind them, too. Everyone’s looking at you. What? You say out loud. You didn’t expect me to kill the sweet little thing, did you? Just then the wind takes a deep breath and blows with a gush and your sweet little critter scrambles across the second half of the street. It’s a leaf. It’s a damn leaf. I stopped traffic for a . . . leaf! Your face is now red, you do a little chuckle that sounds like a cartoon character after it eats the family goldfish, and you try to get out of there as quickly and as politely as possible, driving away with a cool sweat that threatens to drip. To drip!

Yep. Lord have mercy.

That’s me.

Every Fall.

When the leaf critter gets me.

A Friday Favorite for you. Your very first and mine. The Fall gift of Leaf Critters. May they grace your path as often as they grace mine.

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