Autumn is beautiful, yes, but like anything beautiful, it takes work to maintain

TIDINGS FILE PHOTO - Kaleigh HendersonAutumn is a beautiful season. The weather turns crisp and cold. Sweaters, scarves and mittens creep out from dusty corners of closets. Leaves lose their green and display sunsets of yellows, reds, oranges and browns, before gently drifting to the ground into perfect jumping piles.

For me, autumn is a time of warmth, comfort and happiness.

So I sometimes find it hard to understand why my dad hates it so much. As we round our street corner and see our house surrounded by vibrant shades of autumn colors, I can't help but fall in love with fall all over again. But my dad doesn't see the colors and the warmth and the magic. All he sees is work.

"Those darn leaves," he says. "I just raked them an hour ago, and look! There they are again. Stupid fall with its stupid leaves," he mumbles unhappily to himself as he pulls the car into the garage.

For months on end, Dad's highest priority is the never-ending fight against the leaves. He goes out to rake and blow those darn leaves every weekend. He spends hours at a time removing Mother Nature's abstract masterpiece from our driveway, leaving a blank asphalt canvas in his wake.

My mom and I delight in Dad's endless obsession with the leaves. Sitting at the dining room table, we admire through the window the colors and the pattern of the leaves in the wind.

"Look, Mom!" I say loudly (purposefully attracting the attention of Dad, who is washing dishes in the kitchen). "Look at the leaves! The wind is really strong today, huh?"

The steady stream of tap water from the kitchen shuts off, and like a curious puppy, Dad has joined us at the window. "Wind? Leaves? Where?" Mom and I collapse into fits of giggles. "What?" Dad says. "I just raked yesterday, and there they go again! Stupid fall with its stupid leaves."

My dad doesn't see the beauty that I see in autumn, because for him, autumn is a chore. He has to rake the leaves, clean the gutters, powerwash the sidewalk, and spray for ants, slugs and other animals that seek shelter from the cold weather. He has to get the coats, gloves and scarves out from the box in the attic. He has to put up the Halloween decorations, take down the Halloween decorations, put up the Thanksgiving decorations, take down the Thanksgiving decorations.

This is Dad's autumn. And if I had to experience autumn through the eyes of an overworked adult, I would probably hate autumn just as much as Dad does.

But I don't see the stress that Dad sees in autumn, because for me, autumn is a miracle. I see the gorgeous, vibrant leaves spiraling down from the trees like a scene out of the "Pocahontas" movie.

I see the piles of leaves at the side of the road, perfect for jumping into and away from adult responsibilities, if only momentarily. I see pumpkin spice lattes and hot cocoa by the fireplace and warm home-cooked comfort food eaten with the people who I love most in life.

This is my autumn. And if Dad could experience autumn through the eyes of an optimistic teenager, he would probably love autumn just as much as I do.

Autumn is beautiful, yes, but like anything beautiful, it takes work to maintain. It is nature's unconfined beauty combined with man's need for order. It is warm and cold, bright and dull, as crisp as the autumn wind and as soggy as a pile of rotting leaves.

No matter what side of autumn you usually see, take a moment today to see it from a different perspective. Notice the beauty of the colors of the leaves in the wind and, just for a moment, forget that you'll have to rake them later.

See the heaping piles of leaves at the side of the road, and imagine the frustration of blowing them away while the wind blows new ones right back at you.

So this holiday season, you should be thankful for the wonders of Mother Nature. But you should also be thankful for the hard work of those who clean up behind her.

Kaleigh Henderson is a junior at West Linn High School

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