Yesterday, I was walking my baby-sitting dogs (Beanie and Buzzy) that I’d written about in my previous blog. I go to their house to feed and stay with them a while, then we take the routine walk. The houses in the neighborhood are older, more established houses and tall prominent trees form a line down the street-side as I mosey along with the dogs needing to smell each and every site where some other dog has left a tell-tale sign.
Withered crisp orange and red leaves fall, brushing the top of my head. The sidewalk is layers deep with them, so I’m actually pleased we stop as often as often do. I slide my feet through the leaves to hear the crunch. I gaze up at the trees in memory. I am a child again raking the leaves in our front yard on the farm, forming a sizeable hill with my brother and sisters. Once raking is finished, we nearly undo our work as we stand back and run full speed at the gathered leaves, diving as close to the peak as we can. We turn around and repeat the run, hoping to beat each other – to reach the pile first since it is without doubt, collapsing. Once the leaves have spread almost flat, we pick up our rakes and push them back into a pile. It was worth the extra raking.
As I walked the leaf-covered sidewalk, I looked down at my feet crunching the leaves, delighted with the feel, the sound. For some unbeknownst reason, I began to wonder how to describe the sound. Is it “crunch?” Is it “crackle?” Or maybe “crinkle.” How about “pop” like the snap, crackle and pop cereal? I decided “crackle” was best. Thoughts traverse in our heads, like a maze with no end and I began to wonder. How does one truly find the right word to describe the color of an angry sea? Is there a worthy adjective for grief? What about wind? Or the joy of a baby’s first steps?
That’s the challenge of writing. To not use the same common descriptive word, to try to “show” the place, the action, the feeling. It’s one of the reasons I enjoy writing. There’s a challenge in finding new descriptive words. I admit I keep a thesaurus right by my computer. Even then, I gaze out the window at the tree on our front lawn shedding its leaves. I try to think of the word that is a perfect fit. This has an extra benefit at my age. Researchers tell us baby boomers need to keep our minds active. They say the body too, but that’s more boring.
As the dogs and I returned home, I looked forward to our next walk. I decided it didn’t matter what descriptive word I used to describe the leaves under my feet. It was just plain fun.