It’s September, and high school’s been in session for a month now… that initial excitement and drive I get at the beginning of the year is quickly waning. I’m sitting in chemistry absent-mindedly nibbling on the end of a drawing pencil, half paying attention to what the teacher is saying, half-heartedly doodling dragons and other fantastical creatures in the margins of my notes, squinting at them, thinking someday, I’ll draw better, I just have to practice more. Maybe when I get home.. I don’t have that much homework so far, after all.
But then it hits me… it’s Wednesday and that means it’s my turn to rake the leaves before dinner. I briefly look out the window and to the sky, wondering what my chances are that a downpour will get me out of this chore. Not likely, it seems; the few clouds up there are fluffy and white, and a heavy wind seems to be blowing even them away, not to mention even more multi-colored leaves off the trees. But despite the wind’s efforts to make my afternoon tasks harder for me, I wish we could open the window so I could feel that breeze through this stuffy classroom.
When I get home, I reluctantly change into my work clothes, finding the pants with the huge pockets that I can fit my portable CD player in. The wind tried to work in my favor after all, and the sky is overcast by now, but no rain means I still have to sacrifice my drawing practice for the cosmetic appearance of our backyard. Sighing, I put on my work gloves, grab the old splintery rake, and step outside.
Fall weather is almost as intoxicating to the senses as spring weather, the harsh heat ebbing away, the cooling breezes stripping the trees of their dead to make way for new life, playing with their colors and shapes, guiding them, dancing and spinning gently to the earth, where the life-forms below take their role of consuming them, feeding themselves and the soil, making it fertile and ready for the far-off spring. I can almost taste it on the wind, the ancient annual rituals of the earth as it prepares itself before a wintry hibernation.
The work is never as painful as I think it will be, and I relax into the rhythm of the raking, synchronized with the sounds of the drum and didgeridoo playing in my ears through my cheap dollar-store headphones. Very deep and earthy rhythms; so full of mystery, one could believe they mimic the heartbeat of the planet itself.
The work is over faster than I expect, yet the sun is going down and I know I’ve been out here a while. The heaping pile of leaves I’ve raked to the curb is just too inviting though, and without even checking around for a scolding parent, I leap right in, ignoring my CD player’s protests as it skips on impact, burying myself in the soft crackles and crunches, inhaling deeply. I don’t care if I’m barely a kid anymore, this is still the best part of autumn.
But finally I’m drawn out of my leafy haven by another inviting scent, one coming from inside the house, something warm and spicy, sweet and dark… someone is baking gingersnaps. I let out a laugh of sheer bliss as I brush the leaves off my jacket and head back inside. Drawing practice can wait. Days like this don’t come often enough.
…Anyway, that’s what this tea reminds me of.