Yes, I know: it's a terrible bit of wordplay. You'll forgive me when you realize that in this picture, if you look at its full-sized version, you may be able to see that leaves have hairs at their tips. Who knew this? Raise your hand if you knew.

One fall, when I was very small, my parents buckled my brother and me into the back of the Malibu and drove us off to Letchworth State Park, the Grand Canyon of the East (or at least of western New York; the park's website calls it "New York State's Grand Canyon of the East," which would seem to make things pretty complicated indeed). Letchworth was about 90 minutes from Buffalo, and the point of the trip was to look at the leaves. I retain a very strong visual memory of one vista: we gazed across what did indeed seem a canyon, to what could have been a mountain to my six year old eyes: a huge hill of maples gone yellow and red. When my mother remembers Letchworth, she says, "That whole hill looked as though it were on fire."

Near where my family lives in Indiana is a state park that used to draw so many leaf-lookers at about this time of year that it was impossible to drive from Columbus to Bloomington in October. I don't know whether people still do this. I never much liked driving around to look at leaves; I generally wanted to get home and do my homework before Monday.

But today, it was leaves for me, for no small time this evening, just as the sun hit its most gold moment. "What did you get?" asked a student who saw me shooting the beech near the officehouse. I showed her. And then I went off to get some more.