Hues of reds, browns, yellows and purples drape the trees. Leaves flutter from the branches, gently carpeting the ground. A crispness dances in the year.
Ah, it's that of year when I pause, inhale deeply and wonder that wondrous question: Did I hide that stupid rake well enough this year so that my wife won't find it?
The poet inside shrivels up when the wheelbarrow, bags and rakes go outside.
''You know,'' I told her, ''I still haven't started my spring cleaning. Maybe I should do that first.''
''After we finishing the raking.''
Which will be about three weeks after the snow flies.
''Let's be green this year,'' I suggested.
My wife dug out the autumn tools. ''I don't see any green, just brown, ugly leaves.''
''Leaves are natural protection for grass, packed full of nutrients. By leaving the leaves, I'm mulching the lawn.''
''That stretch used to be the driveway. The walk to the front porch is somewhere under here. Come to think of it, so's the front porch.''
Is there any activity so pointless as raking leaves in October? No sooner do you have the lawn clear than it's littered in leaves again.
A few years back, I reported finding an article in which horticulturalists said that leaves that fall in fall help grasses and trees weather the weather. Removing the leaves robs your lawn of nutrients it needs for a stronger and healthier spring.
Hence, let sleeping rakes lie.
A reader snapped at me for this report. ''Yeah let them lie, they'll clog all the drains in the road and we'll all be flooded.''
I live way out in the country. No storm sewers. No drains. Lots of lawn and leaves. If the winds swirl, the leaves pile up in front of the house. When they get so high that they cover the picture window, I no longer see my lawn cluttered by leaves. And I've never heard of anyone raking his windows. Problem solved.
''Our leaves are not that high, they've never been that high, and,'' my wife passed me one of the rakes, ''they never will be.''
OK, then there was the comment sent in by another reader: ''Falling leaves are why God created children. They can rake them because they are closer to the ground than adults. Everyone has a purpose.''
My wife shook her head. ''Our kids are 30 and 25. And live hours away. We're up.''
''What if I just hired some guy to come over and spray paint everything green - leaves and lawn?''
''You've got to be joking.''
''No, I'm not. But that reminds me of an old joke: How does an elephant get out of a tree? He sits on a leaf and waits until autumn.''
''How did the elephant get into the tree in the first place?''
''Um, he flapped his ears and flew. Didn't you ever see 'Dumbo'?''
My wife stared at me. ''Quite possibly I have.''
''What did the tree say to autumn? Leaf me alone.''
Hues of reds, browns, yellows and purples drape the trees. Leaves flutter from the branches, gently carpeting the ground. The crackle of compost bag being snapped open dances on the air.
Ah, it's that time of year when I pause, inhale deeply and wonder that wondrous question: Will my fall blisters go away before it's time to string the Christmas lights?
----- Rake with Cole at firstname.lastname@example.org or find him on the Burton W. Cole page on Facebook.