Fall Leaves 2023: The academic review  

This is my third year reviewing fall leaves, and I’m proud to report that academic reviews are going strong! I like writing them and my colleagues like them too. At least, it seems that way from the positive article feedback they give me every time I threaten their families. Results are results, I suppose.   

Anyway, since I don’t want the concept to get stale, I’m doing something a little bit different in my evaluation of the leaves. Rather than just rate based on aesthetics, I’m in a whimsical mood and have decided to rate the leaves based on how well they would make an umbrella for a little field mouse. Enjoy.  

  1. This is not it. The leaves are too shriveled to have a good umbrella shape. They’re also too separated to really prevent rain from falling on the mouse. Good stem handle, though. 3/10.  
  1. Same problem, too shriveled. It’s bigger and the shape would cover the mouse’s little head more effectively, but the brittleness wouldn’t hold up well with heavy rain. I like the color on the inside, though. Good aesthetic value. 4/10.  

3. Excellent color, for the dramatic mouse. The stem is too short, though, and it has holes. It’s also not strong enough of a leaf to maintain integrity. It would get soggy and dump rain on the mouse, and we can’t have that. 5/10.  

4. Same energy as #3, but with less holes. A little bit bigger and stronger. The stem is still too short, but we’re making progress. 7/10.  

5. Interesting color, interesting texture, far too small. Even little mouse paws would have a hard time holding onto that handle. 4/10.  

6. No, no, no! This is a mouse parasol, not an umbrella. This is for delicate mice to shade their whiskers from the sunshine. It will do nothing against water falling from the sky. As an umbrella, 1/10. As a general field mouse item, 10/10.  

7. This is getting ridiculous. Of course, a crabapple isn’t an umbrella, it’s a little snack for the mice to enjoy with their friends. Who takes these pictures anyway? 0/10.  

8. Now this is what I’m talking about. Fallen for long enough that it isn’t super squishy, but still maintains enough life to avoid brittleness. Charmingly cheerful color, excellent stem, good umbrella size. A mouse would absolutely use this when they venture out of their little toadstool house to go visit their squirrel friend down the road. 10/10.  

Graphic by Neako Hallisey.