Nearly October, and butterflies flit around as though the autumn leaves were flowers. I’m sitting on rain-soaked wood, enjoying a balmy afternoon that feels like summer but looks like fall. Morning showers left the ground saturated with dampness and color. The rain knocked off hundreds of maple leaves, and as they dry the edges curl. Dragonflies dart through the air and perch on the hydrangeas, which retain some of their summer pinks and blues but sag under the metaphorical weight of the season and the literal weight of rain. The potted red impatiens has seen better days, too. It looks garish and weary, an odd splatter of red against the yellows and oranges. Here and there in the yard a flower blooms – the last of the year, stragglers By all rights the summer flowers should have ceded dominance to the chrysanthemums, but one purple clematis climbs the trunk of the sumac, one primrose shoots a flower six inches into the air, the myrtle lets off a single violet star and one last rose taunts us with its tight fist for a week – will it, won’t it? – before bursting into aromatic dimension. I’m in love with these late bloomers; I check on them every day and pray they linger. The rose is so delectable I want to eat it like a coral-colored lettuce, but I content myself by just sticking my nose into its soft center. As I do, a gust of wind brings leaves and raindrops down upon me, and I see a pair of white butterflies twin and swirl in an updraft like scraps of fabric caught in a local tornado.
Everywhere, leaves get caught. Cradled, impaled, stuck – impeded in a hundred ways on their course from tree to ground. I see one maple leaf crucified on a dried out lily stem, several plastered to the mailbox, one twisted in some cable wires, several hung like laundry on a resilient piece of spider web. Everywhere leaves catch other leaves. They collect on the roof as though waiting for a sign; the sign is the wind, which sweeps them to the deck. When I walk across that deck the leaves catch in my sandals, flapping like clown shoes until they dislodge. I’d like to keep them near me – paste them to my arms and legs, tattoo myself with them. I’d like to be an autumn leaf magnet, and as I walked they’d drift to me, cluster around my ankles in eddies like land crabs. I’d like to live in this liminal zone, the zone that is both summer and autumn, literal and metaphorical, early and late. I’d like to live in a world where I could fall… and be caught.