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 Harvest Season by Don Urbanus

     Don looked out the window at Rising Sun Nursery and saw the early morning sun splash oranges and reds across the Autumn Fantasy and Autumn Blaze maples. That meant one thing to Don. It was getting close for the fall harvest season and the cash register would be ringing.
     He scanned the full assortment of firearms he had acquired for the harvest. It took a steady hand and a keen eye to shoot leaves while they were falling. That was the big challenge. Any idiot could get their quota of fall leaves by just shooting into the canopy of the tree. To get a big trophy leaf blazing with color with a bullet hole right in the middle from a leaf that had never touched the ground, well, that was a thing of beauty.
     Don stroked the smooth contours of his most popular gun, the camouflaged Mossberg® 935 Magnum™ semi-automatic shotgun. In the nursery business they called it “the Harvester.” Don disdained that approach however. He preferred quality over quantity. He liked to pick the leaves off one a time with a .22 rifle his father in law had given him. No scope, no night vision, not even semi-automatic, just a simple bolt action .22 that had been used for years for 50 years or more.
     He gazed at previous fall leaf trophies he had mounted on the walls of his store. It had been a stroke of genius to sell the trees that had garnered the most trophies. He even had mounted a rare Japanese maple ‘Emperor One’ with a bullet hole right through the middle of the leaf. He remembered that one vividly. It took hours of patient waiting and focusing on that one leaf that he knew was about to fall. The trick was to get it before it started sashaying in the wind on the way down to the ground. Bigger was not always better when it came to trophy harvesting.
     Don had even started a website listing the places and times where wild leaves could be harvested. Of course, some Harvesters had their own secret tree sites and they were jealously guarded.
It was a wonderful time of the year. With the fall color, the holidays coming up, a faint wisp of smoke in the air and the soft boom of a shotguns and rifles in the distance.
     Naturally there were the protesters. Occasionally the tree-huggers showed up and complained and held signs like “Let Nature take its Course” or “Leaf the Trees Alone.” Ridiculous. The trees were already letting go of their summer’s work. So what if a Harvester took a trophy leaf here or there?
     And there were always the complainers of stray bullets because Harvesters were shooting up into the air. Of course, there was always someone complaining about something.
     Don sighed contentedly. Thanksgiving was coming up and he looked forward to it and a little recreational harvesting. He imagined that years from now he and his old friends would sit around and drink a toast to the leaf that got away.

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