In the autumn, I watched. I watched my trees, my beloved trees; maple, birch, cherry, pine and others. I watched as they began their slow familiar transformation from vibrant green, to yellow, red and gold. I always watch this drama with a mixture of dread and delight. Delight for the beauty of the scene; delight for the comical way the changeless spruce, the fragile fir, and the towering cedar mock the mightier trees that cannot suffer the fast approaching blight. And delight for the perfect simplicity of creation. But dread; dread for the coming chill, shortened days, dismal nights, and relentless cold. Too long will the barren white blanket my world. The bitter beauty of that scene holds little charm for me. But powerless to avert nature's design, I watched. Slowly the leaves will reach their zenith and die, slowly unless a hard rain or north wind speeds their demise.
I watched till the last leaf had fallen. The wood seemed sparse now without its summer canopy. I spotted a curious sight: a mature maple, with a low limb and a single brown leaf. I drew close to examine the stubborn leaf. It was unremarkable save only in its tenacity. So, I watched. I watched the lonely leaf. Every day, according to custom, I would rise and look for it, expecting it to be gone. But it lingered. The cold rains of October came and it lingered. The killing frost of November and the chilling snow of December came and it lingered. The deep freeze of January and the bitter breeze of February came and it lingered. The long awaited sun of March and the lengthened days of April came and still, it lingered. Finally, the showers of May came and turned to warmth and sunshine, and then, it was gone. Not only fallen, but gone. In its place, I discovered a small green bud…new life.
I had always smiled at the foolish leaf, knowing its battle was futile; the end would surely come. In vain it held to life only to relent in the end. It survived the elements of the harshest season, yet it could not survive nor prevent new life. I wondered; perhaps its quest was not life eternal, but life uncommon.
It is written in the old book that the creator has chosen the simple things of this world to confound the wise. For a season, he sent a simple leaf to confound me. In the end I took comfort, for herein is wisdom. I will not live as other men. I will not bow to convention. I will live, life uncommon.
© 2017 Joseph E. Fountain