I stood in the picture window of my house and took a look around outside this morning. This is not an uncommon act but in fact, a daily occurrence. Taking in the scene from above, as my split-level house gives me a wide view of the neighborhood, I look for change. It’s out there. It’s in the air. Then I found it.
It must have been too much.
The trees tried hard to hold onto their golden leaves… but couldn’t. They were there yesterday. Up in the air and now down on the cold ground wet with dew.
I don’t know if trees can be proud… but these two across the street had beautiful, thick arrays of leaves and held onto them longer than any other trees in the neighborhood did. That’s a lot to be proud of I suppose when you’re a tree. As beautiful as the leaves were, no matter how small each one of them might have been – it was too much to continue to hold on to. They had to let them go.
Yes, there is the new birth of spring… new sprouts… new buds… new growth, but I can’t help but think of a time of mourning. Loss. The act of being shaken bare and exposed. Devastation from what you were to what you’ve become.
As long as the trees survive the long winter and don’t become diseased, the leaves will return. Not the same leaves but similar. So similar, in fact, that if you weren’t paying attention, you’d probably not see the difference. But it’s there. I bet the tree knows. Trees are tough. It’ll be a thicker and stronger tree next year.
As I step outside I’m taken back by the sight of my own breath. It’s the first time I’ve seen it this fall. Forgotten yet familiar. It’s chillier than I thought it was going to be. The heat from the house was deceiving and immediately missed. That first snort of cold air is a shock to the system as the frozen air hits my lungs. Throwing it back like the first shot you know you shouldn’t do, especially this early in the day but it’s in front of you and you’d hate to disappoint… You know you’re going to do it eventually anyway.
As I’m getting over my initial shock of air, I pause and assess the situation. I can smell the strong intoxicating smells of fall. Borderline sensory overload. You can smell it… Fallen leaves. Autumn leaves. Dead and decaying leaves. The smell of neighbors burning leaves in the city even though they’re not supposed to kind of smell. Dry leaves that individually weigh next to nothing but when raked and bagged become heavy and back breaking to move. Those kind of leaves.
It’s a windy time of year. The same wind that will making shoveling a driveway pointless in a few weeks or a month if we’re lucky…. But it’s coming. A strong wind is coming. The same wind that robbed the trees of their beauty. To add insult to injury, the same wind will deliver its final blow… blowing the leaves away. Into your neighbor’s yard…
Down the street.
Down the block.
Never to return again.
At some point, crumbling and turning into dust. Disappearing forever.
Life is short.
Even for leaves.