Colored Leaves

Red, orange, gold, yellow, green with splotches of autumn colors. Leaves loosen their grip and dance through the air to kiss the ground. As green buds, these leaves signaled the growth season, new beginnings. Now they tell us to slow down, prepare for rest.

Colored leaves carpet the ground, a crunchy layer that invites play. Who can resist a pile of autumn leaves? Dive into them, wade through, swing a joyful foot to send them flying into the air and watch them settle again. Toss a handful toward the sky and feel them rain back down upon you.

There’s something peaceful about this season, after the hurly-burly activity of spring and summer. The bright leaves hold the memory of summer, and are a welcome contrast to encroaching fog and shortened days.

Colored leaves seem to glow, releasing in these darkening days the stored energy of the sun. At Sulphur Creek, the vines that climbed Solomon the eagle’s flight cage now bear leaves that glow iridescent red, a beacon to all who enter the park. Solomon said, “They have a different vibration now. I like it. I can’t really see it, but I can feel it.”

A Valley Oak tree at our park stands in splendor on the green hillside. It said, “The rest of the year people see me and pass me by, except for the shade I offer. Now they stand and really see.”

I remember the aspens in Colorado, one large family holding hands under the ground. In autumn their round leaves turn gold and dance in the mountain air. Even their trunks glow gold. We strolled on a golden carpet, rejoicing in life and all its cycles.

The Liquid Amber tree in front of our house holds onto its leaves until winter, when the last let go, accepting their time or perhaps not. I watch this tree throughout the year, as the green glow at the tips of its bare branches hints of new leaves to come. I watch the leaves unfurl, opening to sunlight and rain. I watch them shimmer when white-crowned sparrows tickle through them. I watch the leaves drip with rain, turn their many colors, and eventually fall.

How do the leaves feel? “It is our gift back,” a Valley Oak leaf said. “We have received, and grown, felt the sunlight and the rain and the creatures. Now we release what we have stored. We become mulch that protects and nourishes. Earth creatures tickle through us. We become one with the soil and are drawn back up into the trees, nourish them, and are reborn in the spring as new buds – different, yet the same. It is the cycle.”

It is the cycle. The colored leaves help us remember to receive, shine brightly, give back, then rest, for spring will come again after the dark season of winter.

Thank you leaves, thank you trees, and rain and wind and air and earth. I serve as grateful witness and participant in this cycle.

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"Animals are such agreeable friends - they ask no questions, they pass no criticisms." - George Eliot
"The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated." - Gandhi
"There is little that separates humans from other sentient beings – we all feel pain, we all feel joy, we all deeply crave to be alive and live freely, and we all share this planet together." - attributed to Gandhi
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