Thanksgiving last week proved to be an utter delight. The sun shone in New Jersey with temperatures in the 60's. After a magnificent turkey lunch, I went out with Elliot (nearly 6) and Sophie (nearly 3) to rake up leaves in the large garden. Surrounded by trees on all sides, deeply layered leaves covered everything, with mounds like sand dunes rippled by the wind. Wielding rakes and heaving a large wheelbarrow we shifted leaves into large piles, compacting them in the barrow until overflowing, and then wheeled them up the hill to create a mammoth leaf mountain. Of course, Elliot climbed into the barrow for the return journey and then hopped out ready, with his sister, to fill another load. Before long the leaf mountain had gained imaginative hold over the children. It was a castle among the trees. Each load added to the ramparts. A side entrance led into the keep, and an exit wound the other way. Excitedly, they kept scraping up leaves, filling the barrow and chasing up the hill.
I guess you can imagine how contentment filled the afternoon. Sunshine, energy, laughter, togetherness, creativity. Guess what happened the next day? They wanted a repeat, and gloriously the weather allowed a whole day of blissful raking and dumping leaves as the castle grew. Elliot piloted a leaf blower clearing swathes of path, rockery and grass of the last obstinate leaves. There was sunshine, energy, laughter, togetherness, creativity. Just raking leaves in the garden.
I knew at the time that this was special. To be with my grandchildren without TV, video games, and contrived time-users. Just leaves and togetherness. The simple joys are always the best. I don't know whether Elliot will remember his hours with his grandfather. But I shall - with true thanksgiving.