Had you walked into Golden Gate Park at 1:30pm last Saturday, you would have seen four millennials standing under a massive maple tree gazing skyward.You would have seen a picnic on the ground, abandoned to the flies. At sporadic intervals you would have seen them sprinting for short bursts, awkwardly clawing at the air in front of them. You would have said,WTF?
I was one of those millennials, of course. Earlier that day my girlfriend, another couple and I had been enjoying a picnic while the maple leaves — detached from intermittent gusts — cascaded around us. At one point, a leaf danced toward the grass and my girlfriend reached out and caught it. Then our friend chased one down and snatched it before it hit the grass. Then I tried, and missed, clapping at the swiveling leaf like I was giving it a round of applause. Soon, we were all standing, encouraging the wind. Calling out disconnected leafs to the nearest catcher. Cheering each other on. Laughing. Loudly. Excited. People stopped and stared.
It didn’t take long, however, for the kids in the park to start hunting the falling leaves. Then, their parents joined in, too. And had you walked into Golden Gate Park at 2pm last Saturday, you would have seen 30 people of all ages standing beneath a dozen trees, giggling with delight at the simple act of catching leaves. Not a phone in site.