Posted by: Staff | 02.26.2008

College Essay IX: Jeff

JEFF HIGGINS ’08

As the crisp harvest air brings an end to the sweltering heat of summer, my yard is bombarded by leaves. The vibrant foliage falls from over a dozen majestic oak and maple trees to form a vast sea of red, yellow, and orange, carpeting every inch of the lawn. My family is left with the enormous task of transporting these leaves into the woods behind our back yard.

My parents have dubbed this challenge, “Doing the leaves,” (what my dad called it when he was young). For most people, including my family, doing the leaves is a tedious and mundane task. We start with the painstaking process of removing the leaves stuck inside bushes. Holding a blower in one hand, we have to reach into a bush and physically pull them out. Then we are ready to begin the process we call, “tarping.” That involves laying a ten square foot blue tarp on the grass, blowing and raking as many leaves on to it as possible, then hauling the tarp into the woods behind our back yard and dumping it. It is often overwhelming to look at the thousands of leaves on the ground, and the thousands more still on the trees above. Yet, all we can do is work, one tarp at a time, chipping away at the giant task ahead.

But, with my family, nothing is ever tedious or mundane. Growing up in a house with three younger brothers, everything becomes an adventure. Over the years, our times doing the leaves have turned into both complete fiascos and quality family time. I can always count on a fight over the best rakes and the two leaf blowers. And often my dad, who can be a bit neurotic about yard work, gets impatient, concerned that no one is working hard enough and that we are running out of time. But, there have been so many great moments; throwing a football around, wrestling in a huge pile of leaves, seeing who can catch the most leaves as they fall, and family jokes during hot chocolate breaks. Even though it is almost always chaos, I have learned to love it.

When I was younger, the leaves were always overshadowed by other things, the homework I could be doing, the friends I could be playing with, or the football game I could be watching. I never really saw doing the leaves for what it was, irreplaceable time with my crazy family. It is often said that a New England fall is a special thing, but I’ve just never really taken the time to notice. I have been too busy with the rush of life, with homework, cross country, Hebrew school, and piano lessons. I seldom took moments to pause and take life in. Now, with a snap of my fingers, I am seventeen writing my application, wondering where my childhood went. I always saw college as some far off place, some faraway destination. But now it’s here, beckoning me. Among many memories, I will have moments like doing the leaves captured in my mind, as something to look back on and remember, to remind myself of where I’m from.

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