red 2    The leaves are changing colour. I used to think it was sad that the beauty of the autumn foliage signaled the end of the leaf’s life, until it occurred to me that the tree is not dying. It’s just shedding some worn out bits, the same way I shed my hair and skin cells. It’s getting ready to rest. To go on leave, as it were. To take a break for a while from its work of photosynthesizing until the snow melts and the sun warms the earth and the new growth emerges.

If I chase that thought of photosynthesis as work, it makes me think differently about the diverse colours of the fall leaves. It makes me think about the green sameness of the foliage when it is hard at work in the spring and summer of its life. Come fall when it stops working—when it goes on leave—is when it shows its true colours.

yellow 1I’m feeling that way these days. I’m on leave, but just for a brief season. Still, I’m feeling like I have finally been able to shake the green sameness of my work day out of my head and spend some time feeling, and being, my true colours. And now I’m wondering what it will be like when my leave is over—when I go back to my photosynthesis factory with all the other green leaves, doing the things that make us blend together.

Now that I’m over the hurdle of the immediate post-surgical period, this part of my leave feels a lot like retirement. I still have lots of exercising to do to build up the muscle around my new hip; but honestly, needing to go for lots and lots of walks hardly constitutes work in my universe. Going for a long walk every day is one of my true colours. So is having lots of open-ended time to listen to the aspens rustle in the wind while I play away at my creative writing and reading. So is having long stretches of solitude.

red 1When the time comes, I’m going back to a desk surrounded by concrete. To reading emails and writing reports. To meetings and more meetings and meetings about the meetings. It’s a good job, and all, but I think I need some different colours to shake up the green sameness of it all.

The seasons change. Spring will come back and the trees will once again be a riot of green. In a few weeks my own leave will be over and I will have to put some of the things I want do on the back burner to focus on the things I need to do, at least until it really is time to leave.

Perhaps in the meantime I could be one of those trees that sports purple leaves all summer long.

26 thoughts on “Leaves

  1. wcdameron

    I am like you. I love to walk and when I do I get some of the best inspirational thoughts for writing. I love the colors of fall, but I don’t love the snow that comes after. But as CS Lewis said “Why love if losing hurt so much? The pain now is part of the happiness then. That’s the deal.”

  2. mamarific

    I love your comparison of the turning leaves to the phases of our lives. Green sameness can definitely be confining, so I hope you get to keep letting your true colors shine often.

  3. I love the metaphor strung throughout this piece. Seasons, life, changes. Fall is my favorite time of year.The colors, the freshness, seeing your breath (or realize you are) for the first time (which I did this morning).

  4. I’m very glad to hear that walks are part of your restorative therapy, especially since you love them so much! I loved all of your metaphors; all of this talk about autumn makes me want to go out and enjoy the weather!

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