I’ve never given it much thought, but on this occasion, for some unexplained reason I did. I’d watched it happen countless times but now I found myself staring out the window at two enormous maple trees in the courtyard, observing the leaves, as they do very Fall, come down. For perhaps eight or ten minutes I stayed focused on the scene.
Questions I’d never considered came to mind – some interesting, others a trifle strange. Have you ever thought about the following? Are falling leaves to be viewed as an end or a beginning? Why do some trees shed most of their leaves rapidly while others hold them much longer? Are they competing against one another? Which one wins – the tree losing its leaves first or the one that holds on to them longer? Do trees regard their leaves as an adornment as we humans do, or as unwelcome camouflage, obscuring its permanent structure of sturdy trunks and graceful branches? Is it in part good riddance – the leaves being a burden, or is there a sense of loss, of abandonment? Do trees recognize there will be another crop arriving in the Spring or are they surprised when a new cycle begins?
Considering a single tree, is there a pattern or sequence to falling leaves? Do those near the crest go first, while the others follow or is it the ones closest to the ground, or is it completely haphazard, without rhyme or reason?
Notice, unless there’s absolutely no breeze leaves just don’t fall straight down. They glide, twist and turn, flutter, travel, often a good distance from their point of origin. Some resist a downward path, instead catching an upward draft, gracefully ascend for a time before submitting to the inevitable pull of gravity.
What about those leaves that never fall off, but remain attached to the tree throughout the fall and winter. Is jt their function to remind us that others will return in the Spring. Do they regret having been unable to join the others? I think not because those strewn on the ground will soon crumble, pile up or be ground up, cast away and treated with indifference for the most part – as are most things, once they’ve served their purpose.