The leaves are lying face-down in the courtyard, stem-tails up in the air like dabbling ducks. They’re not dabbling; just flopped ungainly down in their red-and-orange pyjamas, making leaf-angels in the wet concrete before it’s time for garden bed.
“I’m not sleepy yet!”
“Look at me, I’m a starfish!”
“I’m a starfish. You’re obviously a rose!”
When the wind picks up they’re boisterous, chasing each other around the courtyard and running up and down the roof — pitter-patter, pitter-patter — on their little twig feet. They know they aren’t allowed up there.
On wetter days they jump into puddles and make mud-pies next to the pavement, getting their bright new pyjamas all grubby.
“Who’s going to wash your clothes now?” the old maple grumbles.
But the little leaves just laugh and dive into the next bit of water. “See, we’re all clean now! Look, all clean and shiny!”
And they are, too, until they run through the gravel to cross the street.
They really do get everywhere — up and down cliffs, in and out of the river — getting caught in brambles and underfoot. Always rushing, always laughing; and laughing all the more when the unexpected happens.
The oaks and apples grumble with the maple at the folly of the young leaves, but there are smiles in their hearts. They know in the end the leaves will settle down and snuggle into the earth. Let the wind and the rain gently put them to bed.
Then the trees can finally turn in themselves for a long, restful winter, before the leaves wake up again next year. Hungry, busy, looking for branches to perch on and light to sip. Rested and calm and ready for a long year.