Have you ever thought about that?
How, when a leaf comes loose of a branch, twisting and catching the low-hanging autumnal sun, maybe drifting on a breeze for a moment before starting back down, it only makes that one, final fall.
I’d never really thought about their journey that way until I witnessed my dad in the driveway, chasing a cloud of drifting leaves, trying to catch a few before they hit the ground.
I didn’t ask him why he was trying to catch the leaves. Maybe he wanted to be a part of their big moment, or maybe he wanted to extend their flight, give them a moment of suspension on their fast track to the bag or the burn pile. Regardless, Dad’s small act of awareness opened my mind to a new way of thinking.
See, leaves, when viewed from my father’s perspective, are a lot like people. They spend most of their time just hanging around, braving storms, holding tight to the branch and other leaves of similar shape, size, and color.
It’s only toward the ends of the lives of leaves when they feel the first nip of fall — feel the end coming — that they burst into the blood reds and campfire oranges that have come to define late October and early November here in the Natural State.
And then it’s off they go, one at a time, or sometimes in sprays, like starlings whirling in their ever-changing patterns against the early-morning sky.
The concrete, the dirt, a gutter drain in a cul-de-sac, or tacked to a refrigerator — who knows where a leaf will end up — but once it’s there, it’s over. The cycle has officially come to a close.
Or has it?
What about the piles that are waiting to be made? The ones that children love to plow through. Or the pictures? All of those pictures taken in the fall with ginkgo leaves serving as fluorescent yellow carpets.
Maybe the fall isn’t the end for a leaf at all; maybe it’s just the beginning. The time spent on the branch serves as an incubation period, days spent growing and observing the world before they are dropped into it, like a butterfly emerging from the cocoon, full of vibrant new colors, ready to spread joy to the world.
What do such musings say about our own lives?
As you read this, are you clinging tight to the branch? Are the winds whipping around you as the rain pounds your head? If so, take peace; your colors are forming, deep hues of robust reds and sprightly yellows. In fact, a leaf with the most vibrant colors has oftentimes endured the harshest storms in the spring.
So, as the last of the leaves fall and the first blast of winter descends into Arkansas, may you see that it’s the struggles, the hardships and the falls that turn us into something beautiful. Wherever you are along the journey, remember to enjoy the ride; it’s the fall that brings new life and new possibilities.
Speaking of the changing seasons, what better way to express your feelings about nature and beauty than through a Haiku, a traditional form of Japanese poetry consisting of only three lines. If you’d like to write one, they’re easy: the first and the last line have five syllables, and the middle line has seven. That’s it.
Please send me your best “Fall Haiku,” and I will choose a few to feature in next week’s column.
Blood reds and oranges
Line the branch, a death bouquet.
Each leaf falls just once.
What’s your take on what you just read? Comment below or write a response and submit to us your own point of view or reaction here at the red box, below, which links to our submissions portal.