The red and orange leaves from the maples on Cypress Street seemed to unfurl into a kind of quilt underfoot, and my arches thanked them. I’ve been struggling with aching feet I can barely walk on while at work, so when I stepped on the fiery bed of leaves that had yet to be picked up by neighbors, or hauled away in person-size bags by the city, their nerves seemed to sort of float and cool.

It had been a difficult day at work, one with some more than challenging behaviors to deal with, and I remember thinking that maybe my feet were telling me I should run away while I could still stand.

Stepping on the leaves felt like an afternoon of comforting sleep, or like the first time my father sprayed Solarcaine on one of my rashes. Road rash, poison ivy, rugburn, and the flaring pain from grazing a corner of a table you didn’t realize was so close, all come to mind.

As a child, I was told to stay out of the sumac and poison ivy, but that was where all the good stuff was. Right in the middle of it there was always a gofer or mantis to commune with, or some raspberries nobody dared pick. I always made sure my fort was in there, in that place no one would dare enter.

I was a radical hermit in the mountains who’d set traps around the cabin, and only after they were all set to do their dark work on anyone who tried to enter my refuge without my permission, would I go inside and sit in my homemade rocking chair and eat some canned soup I warmed over a tiny fire until the cops were called,

a soup like the rustic morel kind one can imagine Merlin used to eat whenever he wanted a whole town of corrupt defilers to vanish inside the night’s warm and hairy mouth without a trace.