I was raking my leaves at my home on Monday.  It was a bright, warm sunny afternoon.  We raked giant piles of red, orange, maroon and yellow maple leaves into the center of the back yard.  And then we started to bag them.

And then I realized something was missing.

The smell of burning autumn leaves.

When I was a kid burning autumn leaves was a family event.  No, make that a neighborhood event.  Every Dad captained his crew to get the leaves all together.  Mom helped too.  And then in the night all of us kids gathered around as Dad lit the pyre.  Sure, he had a garden hose nearby but I don't remember him ever having to use it.  I could look down West Main Street in Sidney into the back yards of all of our neighbors.  I could see this ritual being played out in back yard after back yard.  Willie Torino, Charlie Landers, Ed Owens, Harry Daugherty, Soddie Mirabito and all the rest.  With their wives and kids.

The smell was intoxicating.  We watched little dancing embers disappear into the sky.  Kids ran around in the darkness chasing each other.  We all had plaid on.  And we ended this autumnal pageant with a glass of Mom's apple cider and one of Mrs. Logan's powdered donuts.

It was heavenly.  It was safe depsite what everybody says about it today. It was the smell.  It was wonderful.

And I miss it.  Do you?