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How fondly I remember the fragrant leaf burning that was a favorite autumn ritual of my boyhood. When I was very young, my friends and I would leap and wrestle about in the great piles of crisp leaves that our fathers raked up. Later, we wielded the rakes, sweeping the brown and orange leaves into towering heaps at curbside. When we applied the match, curls of pungent smoke would rise into the crisp autumn air.
I accept the changing circumstances that have banned leaf burning in most communities, even as I regret this sad symptom of our loss of innocence. But it has lately occurred to me that, at least in my paintings, I can once again savor the aromatic leaf fires of my childhood. Autumn at Ashley's Cottage, the second in my Sugar and Spice Cottages series, is the first fruit of that realization - my first autumn scene in quite some time.
My little girls, Merritt and Chandler, have schooled me
in the preferences of young ladies. I'm confident that this perfect little
gem of a cottage, with its bustling chickens in the yard and its heaps
of crisp autumn leaves, would delight them. But I confess that Autumn
at Ashley's Cottage delights the little boy in me as well."