In My Ohio

On Leaves and Their Napoleonic Tendencies

Darren C. Demaree
​​We all knew that last year’s victory was temporary. We knew that they would be back, full of summer’s glories, and desirous to take over the whole of Ohio.  We are outnumbered again, but why do they always show up right before winter?
 
The leaves are here in full force now. They arrived slowly at first, then all at once, and now save for some reserve units held back by fear or planning, they’ve set up camp all around us. They have already claimed the lands near mine. My elderly neighbors have made deals with them, allowing them free reign of their lands in return for never entering their home without permission. I understand their deal making, they’ve already fought their battles, fought them every year, and now they are tired of wars. They will make this deal every year for the rest of their lives. The leaves know they own them now. They want to stay warm inside, and could care less what those of us still fighting have to say about them.
 
We were ready for them this year. We even readied the children. Isabelle is five, a veteran really for this sort of action, and since her rake has already known the piercing of many leaves she will be sent on several solo missions. Thomas is two, young for battle, but we’ve decided he is strong enough to be tested early. He has a shovel this year to aid him, as his use will be mostly for disposal. I’ve promised both of them that by the end of this season, if they are still mobile, they can jump in the piles of the defeated. Hell, they can roll around in them for hours if they want. They will have earned such a garish display of victory.
 
My wife and I have already cleaned our reliable tools, hers a gift from her father (as is the tradition), and mine left for me from a fallen family member. We have names for them, but I cannot share that with you. We have already filled the fire pit with a collection of sticks as mythology tells us that they are the gods of the leaves, and we burned the lot of them to take some of the starch out our enemies.
 
If they have a leader, we’ve never seen him, and we don’t quite understand his inability to adapt to our land. If they didn’t posses such force and numbers then we wouldn’t have to take them so seriously. They have no technique. They also possess very little fear, and absolutely no conscious. I caught one of them in our marital bed last week. It was just laying there like it belonged in our home, where my darling sleeps, hopefully dreaming of a world where something like that would never happen. Sons of branches!
 
There have been skirmishes already. We know there remain a few epic battles, and lots of reconstruction afterwards. We will have to display bagged collections of them in our front yard for a while to keep those that have taken sanctuary behind our neighbor’s property lines at bay.
 
I’m confident we will prevail. We are young. We have the bodies and the energy to outlast them. Even as the cold descends upon us as well, I know the battle will keep me warm and fit. I have many seasons left. My children will have even more. These are good things, because we could get rid of all of them and that wouldn’t matter. They will return again as they always do, without memory or regret.