By Matt Gordon
Well, it happened again. Labor Day came, snatched up my wife, and replaced her with some maven of the forest. What seemed like a normal evening with a normal person turned into some dalliance with a wood sprite, as my beloved took trees, signage (with creative witticisms like “FALL” plastered upon them), and other tokens of the woodland realm and arranged them on our mantles, doorframes, countertops, sofas, walls, toilets, and so on. I look inside a bag of chips, and low and behold, there is a miniature leaf cluster. On our end table is an oversized bronze acorn, a seed which grows forth idolatry that comes about once a year in all its autumnal absurdity. No part of our home is safe from the seasonal breach. I gaze up at my TV, checking the bottom line for the scores and news of the day, and oranges and reds and yellows stare back at me—a string of foliage accosting my very downtime; I cannot even take this lying down, try as I might. Yes, fall has befallen my vulnerable household. Summer has died and reason with it.
I do not understand this, as, at one point in the proceedings, my wife declared that she needed to visit the store for some fresh décor. “Fresh” plastic leaves that would more realistically resemble the multitude of dead ones littering our yard. What charlatan has duped us into this farcical charade? “Hey, I know,” this savvy dolt declared in some greenlight brainstorm session. “We can just make a bunch of crap like someone finds outdoors, and, you know, just sell it for a bunch of money!” A booming industry was birthed.
You know how I celebrate the coming of fall? With a new cardigan to keep warm. One I’d be able to afford if we hadn’t spent my well-earned cardigan fund on a harvest wreath. That’s right, a harvest wreath.
And it doesn’t end, of course. Fall will fade and all this garbage will be tenderly stored in buffalo-sized bins (also known as Tuppewares, tubs, or, my personal favorite,”Tubawares”) that are given more care than a deceased loved one. I must be “steady” and “careful” as I pallbear the procession of bins downstairs until their resurrection next September.
Is that the end of my work? Of course it is not. For up comes the winter décor—the very army of Santas and Jesus babies, stars and lights, and, unnaturally, a great big tree. Wait, did I say tree—falalala-hahahahah. No, we are veritable collectors of evergreen monstrosities. Can’t see the trees for the forest? Come on over to Dunbar St. and see both. Everywhere. For no reason whatsoever, a few months out of the year people take something out of the woods and put it into their homes. The whole point of my home is the precise opposite of that—to keep the wild things very much out-of-doors where they belong. If I were to reverse this process and take my easy chair and march it out to the woods behind our home for a month, and when asked why just laugh and say, “It’s December!” they’d lock me up. But we haul sap-soaked wilderness into our homes with giddy regularity and equally sap-soaked pride. I am convinced this is the one anomaly in human behavior that is keeping the aliens from invading:
“We have to get more intel on the tree thing before the attack,” says a villainous creature from beyond.
“But they say it is ‘just because’ and seasonal and that some king used to do it centuries before,” answers his sinister comrade.
“But why? There has to be more to it. Why!?”
Why indeed my dear enemy. Why, why, why?
Or Who? Who? Who? Who have you become? I ask my wife warily, as one approaches a maniac.
All she hears is the word who. “You know, you are right!” she says with zest. “We could use more owls!”
I hang owls here. I hang owls there. And wonder where in all this changing-season madness I can hide.
“Do you think you can make the brown one’s wings a little straighter?” she calls up the ladder to me. “Yes, dear,” I respond, donning myself in camouflage against the leafy backdrop. I must put it on every day, this peaceable blending in to the bedecked environment that fills my wife with such joy. And, straightening wings and polishing acorns, looking through leaves to see the television, I smile and breathe the crisp, fall outdoors, here inside, realizing the camouflage is as steady as the seasons; the camouflage which grins and bears it—winter, spring, summer, fall–is love, fresh as a store-bought harvest wreath.