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Take one last sip of home-brewed apple cider. Be sure to let your nose linger close and inhale the cinnamon-laced steam as the spicy liquid warmth takes ahold of your stomach. Set your mug a little too hard on the kitchen counter and tell mom where you are going. Run gleefully to the hall closet and strap on those worn wool mittens your grandma knit and slip on your red goose-down puffy jacket. Toast your covered hands in front of the fireplace for a brief moment before entering the bitter cold outside. Bring a friend. And a rake or two.

Cross the stream and head to that glorious oak tree you played under last summer. The one you fearlessly clawed and scraped and scrambled your way up that day they all dared you to, and stood on the brink of disaster sending taunts spiraling downwards from its frailest branches. Spend an hour or so seeing who can save the first wind-picked leaf, before it impacts Earth - its final destination. Crunch a leaf in between your bare hands and let the pieces fall to the ground. Pick up the perfect leaf, and hold it close, so close that you can see every vein, and notice the leaf isn't perfect after all.

Clear a circle of sticks and sharp objects that could leave marks on your still unailing body. Take in the wonderful colors and think of pumpkin pies, bats' eyes, yellow squash. Swear this pile will be the tallest one ever, a red, gold and brown crunchy Tower of Babel. Halfway through, when you discover why raking will always be classified as a chore, take off your mittens and finish up with your hands. Look at your hands and wonder where all that dirtiness came from, smell them to confirm the earthy wet smell of damp dirt - not crushed earthworms.

Lick your finger and hold it in the air to measure wind direction. Walk off an appropriate distance downwind - so that any leaves you displace will blow back into the pile - and turn back to your masterpiece, your handiwork. Start running and let out a blood curdling scream that can only be interpreted as unbridled joy. Hold your arms out as if you could at any moment leave the bounds of earth. Take a flying leap at just the right moment, the moment only the young know will allow a landing into soft leaves and not hard ground.

In mid-air, slow Time down. Hover for a moment and feel the wind blow through your hair, choose a landing spot, before you return time to its natural order and you come crashing down. Make sure to close your mouth before landing. Brush off autumn residue. Help your friend rebuild the disturbed mountain for his turn. Clap your hands as he goes.

Repeat as desired. On the last run, wallow a bit in the pile. Turn over and face the heavens. Examine the wispy depths of the gray distance-less sky, and be thankful for your youth.

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