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I love fall. Always have. The home where I grew up in nestled into a crook of the Susquehanna River. There, the late summer grasses stay lush, intense green as they are constantly fed moisture by morning fogs. The rolling foothills along the river valley are packed with trees. In October, I would walk out my front door to a picture postcard…a panoramic view of reds, oranges, yellows, and greens painted across those undulating hills.

Besides the vivid sights are the crunching sounds of autumn. My children and I recently experienced the singular pleasure of jumping through leaves in Beatty Hughes Park, Corry Ave. We had stopped by the fire house on a ritual visit for my youngest. His third word was TRUCK… after Huh? and MORE…and is so excited about the residents at 225 Corry Street that FIRETRUCK forms the subject and predicate of his sentences. “A firetruck is a firetruck for a firetruck.” Who can argue with that? Our Thursday evening visit was enhanced by a fresh layer of leaves along the sidewalk. We shuffled back and forth giggling over the swish and crunch of the mulch. After several passes, we moved on to the park. Its crabapple trees were brilliant red loaded with their autumn fruit. My children collected sticks and maple leaves as big as your palm.

We took our treasures to the Spirited Goat Coffee House, 118 Dayton St, buzzing with a crowd for the Thursday night open mic. We placed our leaf collection on the half wall along the street and viewed the ornamented leaves like paintings. One hosted a matrix of purple-gray eggs, and the children gathered around it speculating what bugs might emerge and when.

Back at our house, we are experiencing the changing colors inside as well as out. When we moved into our home 5 years ago, we considered repainting the cream walls but procrastinated. A leaky roof has suddenly moved the project forward. With the new roof in place thanks to Legendary Roofing Company, we are now in the midst of the interior restoration under the able hand of carpenter Anna Francis.

My husband was happy with the original cream walls, but I advocated change. My childhood home was painted with rich array of oranges, greens, and blues. The living room walls were dark green, a color which seemed to invite in the surrounding forested hills. I would have loved to be so brave as my parents. However, I was sensibly negotiated down to a paler green by my husband Jeremy. He prefers colors that reflect the morning light, and his color choice also welcomes the outside in…though evoking the ornamental garden rather than the deep forest.

We were the bravest in the kitchen. Inspired by the eggplants from the late summer harvest, we choose colors from the violet family. The kitchen now sports a deep violet that makes the galley look deeper. The dining room is an elegant lilac.

The experience of picking colors has peaked the interest of my daughter and future illustrator. An industrious young woman, she painted on some of the test patches herself—learning the proper brush stroke from her father—and hurried home after school each day to admire Anna’s progress.

My daughter loves the house now, as she says, “full of rainbow colors”. Her eye is true for, indeed, the play of light and shadow—formerly lost in uniform beige—has been lately quite striking.

To some extent, I regret the loss of simplicity in our home. Still, having wiped away the unassuming white, we commune with the natural world—lush and undulating—by inviting its sensibility into our space to enjoy throughout the year. My son loves the canopy of trees, and—in his first two autumns—I could sense his alarm at their raining loss. I tell him how the leaves have been watching him since spring and, seeking his companionship, they have climbed down to play with him. It is a happy thought and one he embraces throwing himself into play with the colorful leaves. I regret the loss of canopy myself but revel in the great splendor of the leaves’ final days and their blessed gift to my children and the soils that they replenish.


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