I think one of the chief reasons God gives us children is to remind us how much beauty and wonder he's given us that we've come to take for granted.
Today, I asked the girls if they wanted to come outside with me to do some work in the yard. Now normally, there's no interest and I end up doing whatever I came out to do fairly quickly, and a few things besides, or if there is interest, it peters out in a little more than ten minutes, and I end up pushing Rachel on the swing. It wasn't like that today.
Today, the girls took to raking leaves off the patio with a vengeance. I helped a little, by moving patio furniture out of the way, lifting fallen chrysenthemums and showing them how to rake, but they both engaged themselves quite busily in the task. And then, once the leaves were off the patio, Evangeline decided we should make a pile and jump into it.
The past three or four years, I haven't really bothered raking leaves. I've been content to let them fall and then to run them over with the lawnmower, creating leaf fragments too fine to blow into the neighbor's yard, and small enough that they quickly decompose and disappear into the yard, if not during the fall than certainly in the early spring. It's basic human laziness masquerading as environmental sensibility.
I raked leaves with a vengeance, creating a big pile that the girls could jump into, and then raked it up again so that they could jump in some more. And jump in they did, again and again, and again. They would stand at the far side of the yard, and then when I gave the signal, they would burst into full speed and ran toward the pile, shouting "Banzai!" at the moment of decision, and then laughing with childhood's full innocence.
After they tired of running across the yard, we made a separate pile at the foot of the slide, and they took turns riding down and splasing into a sea of fallen leaves, sending foam of red and gold flying when they landed. And what that grew old thirty minutes later, they began a new game that involved burying one another (and me) in the autumn.
In 35 years, I have never enjoyed raking leaves before. Today, I would have raked not just my leaves, but my neighbors' as well for these girls.