Tuesday, November 13, 2007

An end to leaf-peeping

Well, folks, we are past peak in Maryland. In certain parts of the region, it was peak a couple of weeks ago. Last weekend was pretty gorgeous here in my neck of the woods. Having grown up in SE Texas (Houston), I can't tell you the magic I saw in the brilliant colors of the leaves my first year in Maryland. It was like walking into a Bob Ross painting. "Let's pick up a little yellow ocher ... aw, yeah ... dab a little here and there ... it's your world ..." The silver and white patina of the tree trunks is overlaid with claret, brick, burgundy, and a little aubergine; ocher, sun yellow, umber, and tangerine; chartreuse, faded grass green, and lime.

When the leaves first begin to change, little bursts of color appear like foiled-in highlights from an expensive salon. Gradually, the highlights spread, like the gray spreads on our hair as we age. Soon the colors are blindingly brilliant, distracting drivers and pulling in tourists to places like Virginia's Skyline Drive or (my favorite) Sugarloaf Mountain, near Frederick. I've always wanted to drive up to Vermont for the season, checking out their brand of autumn, but I have yet to check that off my list. Maybe next year.

This is the time of year I always begin to think of the things I'd like to do with the rest of my life. I am surrounded by the reminders of impermanence. Like the colors of the leaves, our hair will change as we age. Like the texture of the tree trunks, our faces will become lined and weathered. Like the leaves themselves, someday we will fall from the tree of life at some future point - maybe today, maybe twenty years from now - and will move on to our next phase. For the leaves, they will naturally compost and nurture the tree of life, giving life to future leaves and thus to birds, caterpillars, and even to the worms and fungi that will eventually kill off this tree to nurture more trees. It is a wonderful time for introspection and asking questions of ourselves.

May you enjoy this season no matter where you live, no matter what part of the leaf curve you're in.

Peace - D

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