Friday, November 18, 2011

The Circle of Leaves

Looking out the upstairs window, I see the last of the big silver maple’s somber melody of leaves falling to the lawn below. 

An expected right of passage for a leaf, at least from my stand point...not so much the leaf's.   

Somewhere in the back of my head the theme from the Lion King plays as the circle of life unfolds.  That and the theme from Mission Impossible, which I can’t seem to shake either.

I first came upon them when they were just buds in January’s eye, these leaves. Saw them begin to sprout in a sea of spring green, come April, until finally, fully blossomed in May, they sprang from branches and boughs, filtering the morning sun shining through this very same window.

Now the trees prepare for the long cold winter ahead and strip themselves bare.  The leaves fall to the ground, decay and provide nutrients on which the tree will feed.  That is until the army of leaf blower guys show up and screw up the whole Hakuna Matata thing.

Over the summer months I become very close with the leaves outside my window.  I name them and everything.

What…you don’t?

There’s Burt and Lou. Melanie, Sarah, Todd...and Dave, who had that little fungus issue around August.

Bea, who's a little stuck on Lou. Lenny and Roxanne, who became a couple, with four off shoots of their own, two from previous hybrid arrangements.  

Much too many to list here, but rest assured, all noted and appreciated throughout their too short season. 

Of course we lost a lot of good leaves before their time this year with the hurricane in late August.  They held on valiantly, but were overpowered by 50 mile an hour wind and rain.

They never had a chance to see their Chlorophylls degrade into colorless tetrapyrroles or experience their hidden pigments of yellow xanthophylls and orange beta-carotene revealed.

How cruel it seems sometimes, to live… to osmosify.

And now, even those most fortunate among leaves who refused to fly before their time, succumb to their natural cycle.

There goes Burt, now; he floats gracefully on the breeze as only Burt could…as only Burt would.

Melanie…blows a kiss as she settles on a bed of grass, still moist with morning dew.

Dave, always the complainer; bemoaning the fact that he only just began to feel like himself again…and now this.

Sarah…ah, sweet, sweet Sarah, so kind and understanding when I went through that little rough patch back in July; always the lady, at peace with her fate, happy to nurture the tree, from which she sprang.

Lou, the happy go lucky, yet stubborn one, who would have spit in the eye of the hurricane if he had lips; who would have brushed off the October snow, if he had arms…or a brush. Lou…still hanging on, feeling somehow he can make it through the winter, against all odds.  Determined to be there come spring to welcome the new growth, to show them how it’s done.

Ah…Lou…a true leaf among leaves. The lies we tell ourselves are the cruelest lies of all.

And though I’m sad to see these, my photosynthesized, foliated friends—so much more to me than than just the dense network of xylem and phloem that you see them as—go gently into that good ...uhm...leaf sucker, I am heartened by the message of hope that they impart to me:

“We’ll be back…as buds by mid-winter and sprouts in the spring…we’ll be back. In every new leaf in every new season…we’ll be there.”

I’ll keep an eye out for you my friends. There will always be a place for you here….

It’s the circle of leaves….

Man… that Mission Impossible theme is annoying….



  1. LOVE the leaves much thoughtful analysis...
    and greatly appreciated the "botantonaous"...haha...descriptions of nature unfolding.

    1. I was easy...they were my friends...until I had to rake....

  2. good exercise, that raking....
    not a fan of bare trees... and darkness so early... but there's good in everything.

    1. You never met my old biology lab partner....

    2. well.... i can name a few also but i was trying to be positive... someday we will compare notes


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