Thursday, November 29, 2007

Autumn on Sugarbush Street

This good English essay on sharing was written by Toasted Monkey. Do you know that you can submit your own essay and get it published on this blog too? Read this post to learn how to get your essay featured on Good English Essays, a blog with more than 200 readers daily.

When I think back to the best memories of my youth, it’s the street where I lived that I think of first. Tucked far enough out of the way to have a slower pace than the rest of the world, my neighborhood was the perfect place to grow up. I spent my summers swimming or fishing and my winters in snowball fights and ice skates. While all the seasons have their own beauty, it‘s the fall that I love the most. Surrounded by color and wildlife, autumn on Sugarbush Street was like living in God’s painting.

Dominated by maples, willows, elms, and birch trees, my street was cut off from the busy outside world. I often imagined as a child that a great woodsman had carved a path through the forest of trees on my street; that my father and our neighbors had followed to bury their own roots where the trees once lay. In the autumn, after the swimming pools were covered and the sprinklers packed away, the trees exploded with color almost overnight, as if they knew that Mother Nature would put them to sleep for the winter in a few weeks and they wanted to pulse with life one last time. I would look up and suddenly be surrounded by chocolate browns, fiery reds, and bright yellows. In the late afternoon, the whole street glowed golden amber and the sky burned with brilliant reds and purples as the sun set. When the houselights came on and the chimneys signaled that fireplaces were lit, my world shrank to pools of warm light and front porches; no place has ever felt as good or as safe to me. Everything would smell of cool earth and wood smoke. I could taste the sweetness of the fallen leaves in the air. The only thing you could hear, unless you turned your back to it, was the roar of the wind as it tried to shake loose the leaves too stubborn to let go of the branches. I always lingered just outside my front door, taking one last look around: the sky’s fire cooling to silver in the light of the moon, the trees fading to silhouettes, and the crickets restless and noisy at the start of their nightly watch. When I walked inside, my family’s talking above the television’s soft murmur replaced the sounds of the wind and crickets. Those smells from outside quickly faded, replaced with sweeter ones of pumpkin pie and cinnamon; two smells that always permeated my house in the fall.

On autumn mornings, if I got out of bed early enough, my backyard would be alive with activity. My father always put beef suet and extra seed in the birdfeeders when the weather turned cold, and I loved to watch the animals come for a taste. Shivering in my pajamas as my skin pebbled from the cold, I would carefully approach the big picture window that faced out back and press my face to the glass. Red and black squirrels, furry tails standing at attention as they rustled through the piles of leaves foraging for food, chattered angrily at one another if they dared to venture too close. Nervous rabbits streaked back and forth through the dew that glistened like crystals in the morning light. As if sensing my stare, they would suddenly stop, frozen in place like perfect lawn statues. The slightest quiver on the tips of their ears and the twitch of their tiny noses were the only signs that they were real. Pheasants, standing proud like lords of the yard watched it all with me. The smell of bacon frying would pull me away, and the imprint of my face would fade from the cold glass while I decided to concern myself with the inside world for a while.

On one of those mornings, I remember running to the old apple tree out back for some of its sweet red fruit. The carpet of leaves crackled underfoot as I ran, the sound startling the blackbirds into the air. I stood panting underneath my tree, face flushed, when a buck stepped out of the woods at the end of my property. We both stopped, noticing each other at the same time. Brown like the leaves scattered at my feet with antlers that looked like a crown of branches, the buck’s head tapered to a gray muzzle and ended in a band of pure white like snow. Ears and tail stiff with alert, his liquid brown eyes gazed into my smaller hazel ones and I held my breath trying not to move. Powerful muscles moved beneath its fur when it took a cautious step backward into the safety of the trees, and I realized our destination was the same. The crooked tree that smelled so strong of the soft apples that had fallen to the ground after growing too big for the tree to maintain its hold on them. He was there for those apples; I was there to climb for mine. I slowly bent down and picked up an apple to offer to him. My fingers put little indents in its soft skin. My movement startled him and the buck turned and leapt back into the shelter of the dark woods in one fluid motion. Hopeful I could lure him back, I tossed a few apples to where he had stood and climbed my tree, slowly making my way up the knobby bark to the crossed branches at the top that had adapted to my shape from years of sitting on them. I waited in that tree all day for him to return, gaze locked on those apples, pretending not to notice the November cold settling onto me like a blanket. It finally grew too dark to see and my mother called for me to come inside. I never saw that buck again.

Autumn is still my favorite season. When the days get shorter and the leaves start to pile up under the trees, I start to feel like a kid again. My old street has changed over the years. There aren’t as many trees as there used to be; many have been cut down to make room for new neighbors. The trees that remain, though, are just as striking and vibrant in their fall colors as I remember. There’s a bank at one end of the street now, the soft green grass of the field where kids played tag and baseball is now the hard gray of a parking lot. The apple tree behind my parent’s house has been cut down, but I swear I can still smell the apples that littered the ground beneath it when I walk over the place it once stood. The woods, so dark and dense in my memories, have been thinned and you can see daylight between the trees now. The sounds of wind whispering through those woods have been replaced by lawn mowers and radios. I walk back to that spot sometimes, where I saw that buck so long ago, when I stop by to visit (Mom’s pie, still as rich and sweet as it ever was, is one thing that hasn’t changed). When I do, I always get the taste for apples and the urge to climb a tree. I wonder where he went, that buck, when his home was taken over by progress. I like to think that he found another, quieter Sugarbush Street to spend his remaining years; another crooked tree to stand under and eat apples, with an ear cocked to hear the sounds of children playing in the leaves far away. That was twenty autumns ago. I’m looking forward to many more, but I know my best autumns were on Sugarbush Street. I’m glad I was there.

1 comment:

nurfarah diyanah said...

this is too good, like seriously.
simple, but yet wonderful.