The moment grabbed me from out of nowhere. Hubs and I were walking in the neighborhood (a daily practice, whenever weather permits). We rounded the corner, scuffed through the rustling golden maple leaves that had magically carpeted the sidewalk since only yesterday, and I was suddenly a five year old child in the front yard of the house I grew up in, where four mature sugar maple trees dropped their colorful bounty just for me, without fail, every autumn. A child’s paradise!
I’ve been thinking about the moment and about writing fiction – about the power of our sensory memory to transport us across time and distance, about the power of sensuous imagery to propel us into the moment. Four of my five senses were involved (well, okay, I never tasted them, now or as a child :)). Any sense by itself might have sufficed, but the combination was compelling. You can scuffle all sorts of other leaves in your path, but maple leaves have a light crisp sound all their own. It must be the sugar in them that creates their unique scent – I can smell them coming, and I wait for it every autumn. There’s the common musky autumn dried leaf scent, but there’s an added punch if it’s maple. The touch? Well, I didn’t pile them up for a tumble (they were my neighbor’s leaves, after all), but I did pick one up, crumble it in my hand and remember. And the sight – the intense color of any single leaf, the transformation of entire neighborhoods from green to gold (some years, mixed with some red and orange.)
Skillful authors use these details to pull us into the scenes they’re creating – here’s to more sensory images in everything we read, write, and do! And here’s a little taste of the autumn bounty from our neighborhood ~ the end of the lane, the view from our deck, and across the road from the front of our house: