Thursday, October 16, 2014

Flame On

by H. Linn Murphy

When I was little, I lived in Colorado. The Fall heralded a nip in the air and a halo of russet, scarlet, and gold around nearly every tree. I remember shushing my feet through piles and piles of crackly leaves, the scent of wet mold wafting up.

The zucchinis were blimp-sized and we had to launch them into people's car windows because everybody had an overabundance. Cornstalks grew tall and whispered in the freshening wind. The grinning orange pumpkins abounded, tourmaline monarchs enthroned on porches and walls.

Now I live in a sere place where the flora aren't flowers, mostly, thankful for the memories of a beloved childhood. These colors stay the same drab, pointy colors they are all year. We don't have much of a pageant. The sky remains a dusty cerulean now that the random summer rains have seeped into the ground. The heat lays like a stifling, too-heavy blanket over everything.

Last week, though, our family traveled up to the land of the leafy feast. Shimmering golden coins, a wash of vermilion smearing across the jagged mountains, and again, just as in childhood, a crop of pumpkins on every porch. Now my children have something to be thankful for: a new memory.

Going to the mountains is only slightly less a banquet of spiritual food than crashing ocean waves. There's simply something so soothing about listening from the inside of a tent to sussurant whispering of the wind through the shimmering coins and frothy furs. I close my eyes and let the soft soughing lave away the cares and annoyances of the day.

Too soon I am back in my paint-starved stucco monstrosity. I hug the memory of a caress of cool night air to me, wrapping it around me like the sweaters which sprout from it, missing that feeling. The temperature outside reads 93, even though the sun has long gone down.

My poor desert waif children have never known what it is to swim through the stinging air to their first day of school. Such a sting only comes with the advent of Christmas decorations here. Last week they learned the joy of a brilliant maple shower of leaves, experienced the grip of winter-chilled water, and felt the frisson of delicious apprehension at a wolf howl in the darkness. Now they, too, know what they've missed.

I'm glad. It's good that they know what it felt like to play Kick-the-can beneath a harvest moon. I'd like the color green to be not just a memory, but a daily sight. I'd love to introduce them to the joys of lying in the grass without the worry of being eaten alive by ants. And I want for them the waterfall of Autumn colors painted across the mountains.


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