After almost three years in our neighborhood, we've come to the conclusion that you either have to learn to love the leaves each fall, or you'll go absolutely crazy trying to get rid of them. We live in an older neighborhood, with tons of mature trees all around us--a wonderful thing in the summer when you want to sit on your shaded front porch and sip lemonade and swat mosquitoes, but not such a wonderful thing come this time of the year when you have to wade through piles of leaves to get to your front door. Some neighbors in our neighborhood are out there faithfully every weekend in November bagging each and every single last leaf as it blows down from the tree until their lawn is green and completely leaf-free. These are the neighbors without kids, of course. All you have to do in our neighborhood to find the houses with kids is drive along the streets during November. The houses with kids in them always have front yards covered by the enormous eruptions of strangely-shaped leaf piles--rising like big messy molehills out of the grass. There might be an odd bicycle, or scooter left at right angles in the middle of the leaves, or a wayward soccer ball perched like a cherry on top of an ice cream sundae on the biggest pile. Usually you can find a rake or two somewhere in the mix, and a half-filled tarp, or a leaf blower resting on its side. When you have kids it's easy to make fun out of the leaves. We've learned to take a no-stress approach, and while we'll rake and load the tarps and drag them to the curb, we've conditioned ourselves not to mind when five minutes later one child has scattered the same neat pile of leaves in every direction. We make tunnels out of the leaves, and forts; T. collects them by the basketful, pronouncing each leaf she finds prettier than the one before it. Every time the front door opens the wind blows in a stray handful of leaves and they scatter across the slate tile in the entryway. The kitten thinks they are the best toys ever invented, and she'll carry them off to parts of the house and play with them until they fall apart. Maybe some day Scott and I will be out there in the front yard with the empty-nester neighbors, painstakingly raking and bagging every single last leaf that trickles to ground. For now, though, we'll just let them fall and fall and fall. ************ Every year for the past few falls T. and I do leaf rubbings with the best and biggest leaves she can find. This year was no exception. For best results, tape the leaf down to the back of the paper, and peel a few wide, chunky crayons. We like to mix colors as we rub, to create a more fall-like picture. Save the leaf rubbings--they make great cards, or even wrapping paper.