— as I went airborne, slipping on a dark and wet heap of them, skidded to a stop with my forehead to the pavement, my glasses skittering away (but thankfully intact). A faceful of mud and some particularly colorful abrasions/bruises/lumps: head, hip, hand.
I recall flipping off the front of my friend's sting-ray bike while riding the dirt paths through the filbert groves in Sommer's field when I was ten, landing nose-down on the hard-packed earth: no blood, nothing broken. Tonight I can feel that impact again, all these years later. My shaky-kneed walk through the woods back to my house, pushing that damn bike all the way.
What a strange sensation that is — the moment when you realize that you're no longer upright and yet also not yet back on the ground, that brief flight, that joyless soar. And then the brutal truth of impact, and all of this in only two or three seconds where you know it's happening but there's little to be done but try to minimize damages. Amazing, also, that in this oh-so-brief flash of time — which feels like a slow-motion explosion — that you can move your body (somewhat) in order to ease the landing.
Anyway. My love affair with autumn leaves is over.
My son helped me remove the bits of dirt and gravel from my forehead gash — no easy task. What we really needed to do was use a scrub brush, but I just couldn't bring myself to endure that. The stuff was seriously embedded. OUCH.