Pony Express: Don’t let the last leaf fall unseen
Perfect. It was a perfect fall Saturday afternoon -- perfect for football (thousands were watching and cheering) perfect for fishing, perfect for golfing or hiking, perfect for biking, perfect for an afternoon in the park, perfect for a drive, pe...
Perfect. It was a perfect fall Saturday afternoon - perfect for football (thousands were watching and cheering) perfect for fishing, perfect for golfing or hiking, perfect for biking, perfect for an afternoon in the park, perfect for a drive, perfect for raking and perfect for just about anything else outdoors.
It was sunny, warm, and calm, and for me it was perfect for just sitting on the back deck, looking at the sky and the trees and watching the leaves fall.
In our yard, there are oak trees, maples, linden (basswood), chokecherry, elm, ash, aspen (popple), Russian olive, apple, crabapple and we don’t know what some of the volunteers are.
Evergreens go almost unnoticed this time of year. The leaf colors range from not-quite green anymore, to bright yellow, shades of orange, brown, rust, deep reds I almost can’t see (I’ll never be an airline pilot) to chokecherry black.
To me, the colors were brilliant and breathtaking, even though I can’t see them all.
You’ve probably noticed that, even on calm days, leaves fall down in clusters. They all seem to get the signal at the same time. They’re just like the walleyes on a big lake where many boats are fishing at the same time. All the boats report having the same experience at any given moment: no bites, nibbles, but no strikes or real strikes. All the walleyes in the lake seem to be hearing the same signal at the same moment.
Then, no leaves were falling. Nothing appeared to have changed, but briefly, the leaves weren’t getting the signal to drop. Nature was holding its breath. I sat there in this calm for a few minutes, then, all by itself, a single leaf came fluttering down and landed at my feet. It was a scruffy little oak leaf, rust colored, I suppose, and it looked like it had a little scab near its stem.
Another of nature’s signals. This was a signal to me. The leaf signaled that it had completed its mission of absorbing the carbon dioxide from my breath and from the cars, trucks, buses, trains, and the chimneys and smokestacks of our part of the earth; that it had used the energy from the sun to change the sap it had received from the oak’s roots into sugar to feed the trunk, branches and roots, and that it had exhaled oxygen for me to breathe.
That leaf signaled harmony and balance. But it didn’t signal mission accomplished yet.
That doesn’t happen until it hits the ground, and is absorbed into the earth to begin another cycle of life. Life goes on and on.
Falling leaves have always fascinated.
O. Henry wrote a dramatic short story called The Last Leaf that I’ll remind you again is a masterpiece you must read.
Added to that is one of the top songs of the last 60 years, “Autumn Leaves,” music about a season, a love, and a loneliness.
Falling leaves can be a burden or an inspiration. There are too many burdens and not enough inspiration.
Don’t let the last leaf fall without being inspired.