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Decorate with Fall Leaves (and Why Leaf Walks Aren’t Just for Kids)

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The only other member of my family who seems to love fall leaves as much as I do
(True, he prefers to eat them, but I’ll take what I can get)

Earlier this week I told you how our annual leaf walk was a bust. That the boys weren’t into it and that not even the jauntiest of my rhymes was able to save the day.

Not a big deal, right? Just a short neighborhood stroll where we’d gathered a few leaves and then stopped. Who cares we ended a bit early and didn’t do anything with the leaves afterwards?

Well, ME. It turns out that I care.

See, a little while after we got back from our walk I left to meet a friend. When I returned home, I saw the stroller wasn’t out front. I asked Mike, “Did you put the stroller away?” I knew the answer was yes, but in hindsight I realize I asked that first question so I didn’t feel quite so weird asking my next one. Which was, posed in a rather accusatory tone, “Were the leaves still in the bottom when you folded it up?” Mike looked a little taken aback and said, “Yeah…” When I sighed and gave him a look, he said, “I didn’t know it mattered.”

As I write this, I can laugh. Leaves aren’t exactly hard to come by or super difficult to collect. I can’t blame poor Mike for being caught off guard by the fact that I had apparently formed a deep and abiding connection with those particular leaves. What was my dealio?

I was disappointed. I was sad, not in a something-terrible-happened kind of way, but in a man-that’s-a-bummer kind of way. Because I LOVE autumn leaves. I love the ones that are such a deep red they’re almost purple, the orangey-red maple leaves etched with golden veins, the green oak leaves in our front yard with their ever-wider yellow perimeters as the days pass. When the tree world’s various shades of green explode into a panoply of colors, I find it darn near magical.

I realized that just because the kids were meh on leaf collecting this year didn’t mean that I had to be. Yes, seasonal activities are fun for kids, but they’re wonderful for adults, too! Kids don’t have dibs on experiencing the wonder of fall leaves. They’re not the only ones who can happily collect bits of nature to take home.

And so when I took Bennett out for a walk on a beautiful day this past week, I redid the leaf hunt. I skipped the rhymes, but relished the rest, loading down the stroller with one gorgeous leaf after another.

And then when I got home, I did the craft that I had thought I was going to do with the kids. Since I’m always disappointed when the leaves’ edges curl and colors fade, I had done some research. Mod Podge was the answer, and I just so happened have a bottle of it on hand after last year’s decorating mania. It worked beautifully.

The leaves I now have lovingly displayed on my mantel? Mike and the boys might not notice them for weeks. There likely won’t be visitors to properly admire them, either. But it’s still worth the effort because I love them. My blog tagline mentions “joyful family living” and I mean joy for ALL family members. Yes, I delight in seeing my kids get excited and learn and have fun, but I should get to do that, too. I still have my own personhood. I’m not just someone’s mom.

Maybe there is an appropriate leaf hunt rhyme for me after all:

I’m gonna find some fall leaves–
Yellow, gold, and red.
If others don’t enjoy it,
I’ll go myself instead.*

*with special thanks to Bennett for being an agreeable walking buddy

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