Before the First Frost

By Stacy Murison

October 5, 2020

Before the First Frost

The yellowed aspen leaves shimmer like so many pennies against the setting sun, almost frantic in their last-dance enthusiasm for the night’s forecasted hard frost. Your neighbor’s forgotten garden has little to offer: one ghostly chalk-colored squash that just a few weeks ago was a cheerful orange trumpet blossom. Your hands are cold and when you look, they are mottled: red and white and veiny. Rivers of blue are rising now, mounding your skin. In just a few years you will be able to trace every veined tributary as you do on your mother’s hand, as you did on her mother’s hand. The wind pushes pine boughs, pushes aspen branches, and you are alone in the midst of these forgotten gardens and unraked leaves. You stop and try to understand what the aspen leaves are telling you, but instead: silence. You pick up one yellow leaf from the ground and carry the stem between your thumb and forefinger. All along your walk you watch as neighbors pull their cars into driveways, pull their trash cans into garages, turn on lights, close living room curtains. When you arrive home, you place the aspen leaf on your desk and stare at it, hoping it will reveal its secret to you, hoping it will shiver-shimmy one last time before the frost comes.


Stacy Murison's work can be found in Assay: A Journal of Nonfiction Studies, Brevity's Nonfiction Blog, Hobart, McSweeney's Internet Tendency, River Teeth's Beautiful Things, and The Rumpus, among others.


Photo by Katie Moum courtesy of Unsplash

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