Sometimes ‘mess’ is beautiful

“It’s all messy: the hair, the bed, the words, the heart, life.” —William Leal

As I was driving down the street and soaking in fall colors the other day, it quickly became clear how much more I enjoy looking at the yards smothered in untouched leaves over those that had been meticulously raked to perfection.

And that’s not just an excuse to avoid raking up my own scattered yard. (Or is it?)

No, it’s not. I like to take in as much color as I can in the short window we’re given between lawn mowing and snow shoveling.

It helps that I love fall. And secretly, I’m not completely anti-winter. I like “cozy” and whatever it takes to achieve that reality. Sum­mer has its perks, but 95-degree days just don’t lend themselves to coziness.

Every morning during the past few weeks, leaves have been scattered everywhere, all over town. My backyard is no exception.

When the first few fell, they were as green as spring. Then only partially green with yellow sprinkled in. An hour later (it seemed) thick streaks of gold swallowed every other color.

The winds blew in, teasing with cold temperatures for a few mornings, and my leaves became what they are now, a rainbow of a hundred different browns, tans and taupes.

Every morning they are in a different spot. Settled into a single pile one day, flipped across the deck and backed up against a step the next day, and then this morning, scattered randomly in small clumps all over place, stuck under patio chairs, pushed into corners and trapped in potted plants.

That’s what I love; the random placement. Every morning, it’s an new show outside my windows. I haven’t felt compelled rake up, clean up or bag up a single leaf.

I respect fall for entering this way; just a little bit messy.

It’ll get cleaned up. It always does, one way or another. For now, I’ll take the mess. It’s cozier and homier. It feels similar to the message displayed by a sign I recently saw in a store that declared: “Sorry about the mess, but we live here.”

It’s comforting.

I think this idea of a comforting mess works for most things. I have my messy moments. Days, months. (OK, years.) But I’ve picked up a truth along the way. If things are cleaned up too quickly, too neatly, something worthwhile could be missed. Or maybe just something pretty.

“Change is scary, but not as scary as staying the same forever,” penned poet Ms. Moem. I agree.

Who wants a world where nothing changes? Where winter never turns to spring, spring never turns to summer and summer never turns to fall? Where messes don’t pave the way for something new?

Not me. I’ll take the mess every time.

Shelley Plett is a graphic designer for the Free Press and Kansas Publishing Ventures. She can be reached at shelley@hillsborofree­

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