School let out and we started walking home with the sounds of a thousand sneakers stepping, stretching and twisting squeals. Leaving the school room floors and stern on looking teachers behind us, the air became quiet again, filled only by our voices. And so we laughed and joked around, as we always do, on our way home.
Heading out, it was cool outside, almost raining with a soft drizzle. I remember a mournful sound. We didn't know where it came from, as we looked around. Unable to recognize the source, we continued walking. Then we noticed a scratchy sound, as leaves seamed to move of their own volition across the sidewalk. We joked about the leaves and the monsters of all hallows eve coming alive.
The mournful sound returned. And we stopped and looked around again, wondering where it was coming from. There other children about, fewer now, but some. We joked that maybe it was coming from the yard gnomes, stone frogs and angels. The wind started to pickup and we headed on.
As we walked, we noticed how quickly a great shadow rose in the sky. As if the dark clouds of November were crawling up behind us to block out the late October's ever shortening afternoon sunlight. We joked that it was "sneaking up on us."
There was a girl walking a few blocks up ahead of us. She was walking all alone, holding some books close to her chest. Trying to scare one another, we joked that she was holding the books like a shield for protection, as if perhaps, just maybe, she knew something we didn't.
The sound of the leaves in the trees started getting louder. The winds would jerk the leaves in the trees left, then right, hard. So hard the branches would swing from one direction to the other, then back again. I thought some of the large branches might actually break off.
We looked at each other, with a look in each other's eyes we could not hide. The noise from the wind was all we could hear. No sounds of cars or trucks. No sounds of people talking. It was like the wind was angry and yelling.
As we looked around to see where everyone else had gone. There was no one else. Just the two of us, standing there looking around. No other kids. And the girl up ahead was gone. Just stone faces of gnomes, frogs and angels. They all seamed to be looking at us. All facing us directly at us, as if they were the spectators watching to see what happens next to us.
The wind was angry and yelling, not at the whole world, not undirected, but directly at the two of us. Without embarrassment, we both knew the other was scared. And the joking was over.
By then the sky had been over taken by dark clouds and the wind was roaring. The leaves were being ripped from the trees and danced around in the wind. I thought it was starting to storm, so we decided to take the shortcut through the cemetery and we ran.
The ground was soft and sometimes slippery. So we had to slow down and walk around the grave stones. Leaves in the wind were flying around on and near the ground. You couldn't see the ground you were stepping on, only that you were stepping through a floor of flying leaves. Sometimes between headstones, sometimes it would swirl around the stones. We seemed to be in one of those scary movies our parents would never allow us to watch.
The leaves and the wind merged into streams flowing up into the air. The trees and leaves looked like giant balls of moving color in blue, green, yellow, brown and red. Flames dancing and searing the sky. At times rumbling like a train engine, roaring like a waterfall and other times whispering.
We could hardly see where we were going, with the rain and leaves blowing sideways across our faces. Hearts pounding, we leaned into the wind and ran as fast as we could. At the time, it felt like we were running in water, hardly able to move. I was paralyzed by fear and sure it was going to get us.
Even after all these years, to this very day, I would swear a monster was chasing us. For just a moment, through rain, leaves and squinted eyes, I saw it, both glorious and terrifying, giant sky flames of wild fresh color rumbling and dancing in the wind. I still wonder what it was trying to communicate with moans, whispers and roars.
Big show this week.
Giant sky flames
of wild fresh color,
rumble & dance in the whisper wind
while the leaves change.
Must visit to
My favorite time of the year.