The sound that snaps forth from the first few dried leaves that crunch under my foot each year always pleases me. I'm careful not to step on any I see by daylight, because I like the surprise of crushing one by night. There are ordinary, soft footfalls, and then that sudden, distinctive noise of the disintegrating leaf. A few months hence, it will be commonplace, but now, during the waning of summer, the experience evokes both nostalgia for autumns past and anticipation of the season that approaches. Tonight, I stepped on the first dessicated oak leaf of the year. I listened to the satisfying crunch resound in the evening air that is almost as dry as the leaf itself.
Though afternoon was balmy, night is cooling rapidly, and the autumnal sound of the crushed leaf made me think that I might brew some orange spice tea later tonight. I usually save that until October, but this summer has been so relentlessly hot that I'm eager to begin the rituals of fall. Besides, we are only now reaching the peak of the fire season, and thus far, despite the abundant fuel resulting from the wet spring, there has not been a single significant wildfire in the area. The whole place is an overflowing tinderbox. Should a fire begin, the town could well be gone before autumn truly arrives, and the autumn rituals just wouldn't be the same in a refugee shelter on the outskirts of Sacramento. One never knows what will happen. Seize the day, and the cool night.