Leaves (not Leafs) By Danielle

You know you live in Toronto when you hear people talking about raking “leafs.” As someone who pays less than zero attention to sports, even I know where the confusion comes from. But is it ok to say that I love leaves?

Today in the cemetery, only a few trees retained their fall colours. Even though it has been weirdly warm for November, we are clearly coming to end of that brilliant season when we look up for inspiration. So, I have been looking down. There are still so many lovely and interesting leaves on the ground. For example, oak leaves might as well be made of plastic. They do not breakdown even if composted for years. Did you know that until it was renovated, the Winter Garden Theatre had real leaves decorating its ceiling? They just didn’t decompose! Now, for some reason, they have replaced them with artificial leaves. I would have been very happy to give them the five bags of oak leaves I raked from my very small back garden!

Gingko leaves are now bright yellow and still on some of the trees. But, if you can, take time to examine the ones that have fallen. (Unless you have acquired a taste for it, avoid the fruit that is also on the ground – your nose will tell you why.) Unlike other deciduous trees, gingkos have leaves where the veins are not interconnected. They run from the base of the stem in two groups. In fact, the veins look like compacted and well-ironed needles. These trees are a living fossil and may have been a delicacy for dinosaurs! Some living gingko trees are over 1,000 years old, the fossil remnants are millions of years old.

And who hasn’t made bouquets of beautiful red and yellow maple leaves? We ironed them between sheets of wax paper when I was a child. That way we could keep the bright colours for a bit longer. I have a friend who tapes maple leaves to his walls in interesting patterns – fall décor from the garden.

Until the snow falls and covers them up, you still have time to look down and enjoy the crunch, the smell, and the beauty of leaves. And I won’t tell anyone if you want to call them leafs.

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