Merchants pouring into the square amid a swirl of browning leaves, the red and orange ones still on the capital’s many trees a presage of the fireworks to come later that night. Some came astride beasts of burden, as their ancestors had, while others had embraced the brass-clad automobiles that turned water and kerosene into motive power.

For one week, everything was to be on the street as it was in the trees above: vibrant, colorful, unpredictable, ephemeral. There were parades in fall-color costumes, and the wealthier neighborhoods tried to outdo each other with their Autumn Bands, brass and steel and wood held up before fiery uniforms made fresh each year.

This was the Falleaf Festival, and it had happened for 1000 years.

It was the last one ever held.

  • Like what you see? Purchase a print or ebook version!