Ball pits are the best. There’s just something about throwing yourself with complete abandon into a hard sea of multi-colored plastic balls. It brings out the child in all of us. Same could be said for foam pits and leaf piles. You lose all inhibitions and trust that your fall will be fine. You know that something is there to break that fall, catching you and comforting you until you do it all over again. Those are the moments that make life worth living.
I was recently reminded of a moment just like this that Clifford and I unknowingly created for our nephews a few years back.
We don’t rake the leaves in our yard; Clifford blows them with a leaf blower. That seems to be the trend in the burbs around here. Far different to when I was growing up in the Hoosier State where a rake and a wheelbarrow were your best fall friends. Anyway, unlike some assholes who blow them into the street (i.e. the neighbors we don’t like), Clifford blows them into the tree line trench between our yard and Lonny’s (the neighbor we do like). It creates the most massive pile of leaves I’ve ever seen.
My brother and his boys were up from Florida a few Thanksgivings back and were staying at my house for a couple of days. There are things in Atlanta that aren’t in Florida, apparently, which can make the outdoors inviting and fun.
The boys had been allowed to go outside and play in the yard while we adults did adult things (i.e. drinking, eating, etc.). They sword fought with sticks (maiming each other and destroying our holly shrubs). They ran around playing tag (which became a game of beat and be beaten) among other games eight and ten year old boys play when given a large yard to do with as they would.
I remember watching them fondly from the window and smiling at their youthful exuberance (read: kids on crack). I remembered what it was like to be so full of energy while playing out imagined scenarios with my siblings in our yard back in the day.
I watched as they moved from the yard to the trench. I’m sure it was the next best thing to a fort for boys that age, and it was already built. It screamed “come play with me”. They didn’t have leaf piles in Florida so this was a true treat. They were laughing and running through the foliage so blissfully ignorant of the world around them. It was beautiful. They were tossing leaves in the air like they’d found pure heaven on Earth. They plunged back making angels and dove head first swimming beneath a sea of brown, gold and red …
“No, no, no, no …” I sputtered as I moved from the window to the front door. My brother gave me a questioning look. Clifford looked out the window.
I threw open the front door and raced down the steps horrified while shouting, “Stop!!! Get out of the leaves! Don’t play there! Get out now!!!”
The boys glanced up briefly, then ignored me while continuing to play and dive and plunge and laugh…
I ran to the edge of the leaf strewn gully and begged them to get out.
“That’s where the dogs crap.”
Then they understood.
And just like the boys a few years back, I hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving!