I considered a snarky post about a holiday celebrating a guy who got lost and thought he was someplace he wasn’t and then returned to work the residents to death. But, that story will be told better by others today. And anyway, if you want to celebrate a European landing on this continent, how about Erik the Red? Nope, not talking about the clueless lost murderer. I’d rather ruminate on the billions of leaves retiring this month.
Trees discard their leaves to make survival easier, considering their longevity, their choice works. Leaves are like seasonal employees and discarded as a drain on resources. Like a vain fashionista, their clothes are tossed away for new ones in the spring. Growing up in New Hampshire where the foliage is tracked like and obsession and where people come from all over the world to see the display, it has always effected me.
My first published poem was about the gold watch given these leaves for their duty and sacrifice under a sky heavy and pregnant with snow –they dance to their doom. As difficult as I might find meditation during this time of the year I can sit and watch one leaf after another plummet or pirouette to a final rest. Some leap while still a little green and others at the peak of their colors. The selfish wait to be ripped off their limbs by strong winds or even pushed off as shriveled ghosts by the new buds of spring.
It is also a sensory overload. In college one of my poems caused considerable concern by a matronly professor who feared for my life. It was one in which I knew: what fine humus I will make. I was amused that she thought I might be suicidal. I tried to explain that I was too curious to ever consider not finding out what tomorrow held in store, but she only rung her hands. I still find it impossible to watch the colors change and not become buried in metaphors.
My eyes can watch symphonies emerge and evolve in color and movement in the trees from my window. My fingers freeze mid-word as my eyes behold the blue sky and white clouds through the many millions of leaves shivering above me. Four acres of trees eager to cover my garden and driveway. Brown crisps become trapped for years in the boxwoods and azaleas.
There is a mountain in Georgia where one can be buried in a cardboard box among the roots of an old tree. I can only wonder in amazement at being part of that slow cycle, I imagine a body laid in a box filled with orange, yellow and red leaves for a shroud.