You can point and laugh and call me one of those pathetic girls, but nonetheless, I don’t care. So what If I watch The Bachelorette? It inspires me and shoves me into the world of romance for my stories and plot lines. Don’t judge. I never believe in reality-show inspired couples [just take a look at Hurricane Jake-Vienna], but the places and the dates the producers put together never fails to make me smile.
Ali Fedotowsky is the new bachelorette this season, but last season on Jake’s epic failure to find a wife, she was one of the twenty-five bachelorettes trying to win his sensitive heart, but alas she went home because she couldn’t lose her job. There was one particular moment I loved during Jake’s season which has been on my mind ever since. It was during a home town date when Ali said that when she catches a leaf, she makes a wish.
This simple moment on this hopeless reality TV show threw my mind into a spinning tornado. It gave me the basis I needed for the medical school romance series I was writing.
I think for most children across America -and maybe the world-, leaves are one of the images a teenager would say if someone was to ask the question, “What objects can you describe from your childhood?”
The different colors of the variegated leaves are one of my reasons why autumn is my favorite season. Gold, brown, chocolate, crimson, orange, tawny. The winds blowing and ushering the leaves to cascade down the trees, littering in gorgeous patterns across the light green, crispy, uneven grass. They are many things to people. Memories of leaves being raked, laughing, jumping into proliferating piles, and having pictures taken with friends and parents. They are old happiness encased in nature’s cookie-cutters. They’re everywhere; always ready with a storage of optimism for people to draw from. Me. You. Anyone.
In my story, the protagonist takes a leaf from a nearby tree and marks it with the date and gist of the memory when she wants to remember something beautiful or monumental that has happened. Then she stores it away in several boxes.
It all started when I was a miniscule girl of five years old running around in pigtails and dark blue overalls. Even back then, autumn was my favorite season, and while usually my parents never let me raked the leaves, that special year was going to mark my first. I was given a toy rake that day to help my parents, and with that magnificent tool in my hands, I pushed myself to become the rake expert, trying to outdo my even smaller brother and his growing pile of leaves.
When we were done and the backyard was left a plateau of dying yellow with random mountains of variegated leaves all around, our parents directed us to gather them into trash bags so we could ship them off to a â€œleaf collector placeâ€ the next morning.
As I shoveled my leaves with my shiny, red rake into the black garbage bag, I came upon one especially bright leaf with a shiny exterior and a perfect mix of scarlet, bronze, and saffron colors. Inspiration of some sort struck in my head. After looking over my shoulders to make sure my parents or my brother werenâ€™t looking, I proceeded to shove that special leaf into my overallâ€™s pocket. Pretending to whistle, I continued my dutiful work.
That fond memory was over fifteen years ago, but a tradition started that day.
Every moment that I considered special or something worth remembering, I would pick a leaf from a random tree nearby, etch the date and a brief gist or quote of the memory onto it, and place it safely into my odd leaf collection. Along with journal entries, I kept a large black crate with two pastel colored boxes inside, labeling them as Friendship and Family. Inside each box were colorfully decorated bags labeled with a special personâ€™s name.
Leaves are memories. It’s nature’s gift. It’s the one thing on a bleak day I can draw strength from no matter where I am. Dallas. Waco. Cambodia. China. Maastricht. California.
It doesn’t matter where the location is because, well, it’s everywhere, resting, hanging, and dancing whimsically.
I do not own any of the photography.
This is my last ‘small ounces of happiness’ blog before my trip to China. Hopefully from the beautiful oriental country, I will be able to do my first travel blog.
Cool post, Monica! I want to study abroad in China and this makes me excited! I want to hear about this from you in person!