We have been stuck behind Mr. and Mrs. Leaf Peeper for 45 minutes. Sue and I are on our way home from the grocery store – they are on vacation. It’s nice to be on vacation, to not have a worry in the world, to take the time to smell the roses, to wander wherever the wind blows you, to be awed by the wonder of nature, to drink in the majestic beauty of this country, to slow down and admire every new vista in brilliant, flaming colors. But do you have to do it in front of us?
“Let’s ram them,” Sue said.
I’m not sure she knew she was thinking aloud, but she had read my mind. Dumb, stupid nature. Dumb, stupid beauty. We’ve got things to do. It must be swell to have the time to look at dead leaves, but we’ve got gutters to clean, bulbs to plant, patio furniture to stow away for the winter, storm windows to install. Most of all, I’ve got a lawn full of beautiful leaves to rake. Not so beautiful when they’re knee-deep on your front lawn. Are they, Mr. and Mrs. Foliage Connoisseur?
They say beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and I guess I’ll be holding about 20 giant leaf bags before the day is through – if I ever get home. The leaf-lovers ahead of us are now stuck behind other leaf-lovers, who are even slower than they are. Where do these drivers come from that have never seen leaves before? If they live within driving distance, they must certainly have their own leaves.
Oh, they want to see them at their peak. Nothing but the best for them. Two days before peak, why even leave the house? Two days after peak? What kind of chump would want to look at leaves two days after they peak? It would be like going to a museum and finding all the Rembrandts were out being cleaned. The rest of the paintings are just a bunch of Van Goghs and Picassos. Why bother to even leave the house for that?
Or maybe our leaves are different from their leaves. Our leaves turn red and yellow; maybe theirs turn pink with purple polka dots. C’mon people, they’re just dead leaves. If you look at them close up, they’re dirty, they’re spotted, they’re misshapen, they’re full of bugs – they’re not very pretty at all. Is yellow a better color than green? Is rusty brown a better color than green? I think green can hold its own with all the other colors, I don’t think we have to get all dramatic about a bunch leaves losing all their chlorophyll.
Whoa! What’s this, the leaf-huggers have their right blinker on. Finally! Praise the Lord! There’s a pull-off for the overlook up ahead. Yes, get off the road and take your leaf-peeping friends with you!
As we follow them with our eyes, making sure this isn’t some leaf-peeping trick – that suddenly they’ll change their minds and swerve back in front of us at 20 mph – we get a view of the hills and valleys below us.
It was as if a bright red and gold rainbow had fallen to the ground so we could see what it looked like close-up. We slowed down and followed the leaf-peepers into the overlook.
It turned out the “tourists” were from the next town. They didn’t know why, but they’d decided to take the day off and drive around. We decided to take the rest of the day off, too. The storm windows could wait; who wants to clean gutters on a day like this anyway? I may not rake the leaves at all this year.
Jim Mullen is the author of “It Takes a Village Idiot: Complicating the Simple Life” and “Baby’s First Tattoo.” You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org
Copyright 2007, Newspaper Enterprise Assn.