Today, on my walk through a wooded neighborhood near our home, I feasted once again on the vivacious colors of autumn leaves—some still courageously hanging on while others have fallen in thick layers to the ground. As I walked, I began to notice a number of trees whose leaves had vacated one side of the tree but were in full festive dress on the other. I don’t know why for sure, but my instincts suggest that the ones most exposed to the wind and rains are the ones that fall first.
I also observed how some trees feverishly hang on to their leaves to the end. They clasp tight their foliage, many of it still green, and wait out the cooler days and even cooler nights until it becomes no use. Yet, their neighboring trees are practically bare—branches naked and empty handed, striking an upward pose as though gesturing their acceptance of the changing of seasons, the coming of winter.
At first, I was drawn to the trees that seem stubborn with pride, grasping their foliage with a tight fist. Then I thought more about the trees that relax their grip and give up the ghost more easily. They seem to accept the inevitable without fear or trepidation. They understand the changing of the season—don't see the change as a threat. They know that each new era has its purpose in the cycle of life. Winter isn’t to be feared. Though dormant, the new growth of the previous year will have time to solidify. There is confidence that spring will come again.
I guess you could say that I’m in the early fall of my life. I’m 53 and aware of the subtle changes of mid-life. Inside, I still feel 23 and have lots of energy and desire to be productive, engaged and make a difference in the world. But as the seasons progress, will I amiably give up my leaves, whatever that represents? Will I accept the winter of life as a time to solidify inner growth? Will I be graceful with each season’s change? I hope so.
So, what did you see today?