Two weeks ago, when the season seemed confident and strong, unwavering in its commitment to the final traces of Summer, before the clouds crept low and the snow came, knocking most of the brown and brittle, rattling leaves from the trees and carpeting the ground with their mottled slippery bodies, Ken and I took Duncan on an evening stroll along the edge of the property and across the street to the park. While Duncan tended to business, I caught Ken––who is a quiet sort of fellow and doesn't offer his opinions on things except when pressed for them––eying the buoyant red leaves of a bush I pass by several times a day, one I have taken countless photographs of––some of which have even been posted here. He didn't say anything about it but on our return he paused again, even though Duncan had no business to tend to, and said, "That bush is very pretty. It makes me happy."
It seems a silly little thing but his words brought a smile to my face and I thought, "I love it, too. I have loved it for as long as we've lived here." But I didn't say anything, just nodded to him and watched him admire it.
And then he had to go home to the upper peninsula of Michigan to be with his family during a difficult time. A week ago today we were driving to the airport thinking of the rumors of snow and watching the clouds slink in, a great white, billowing mass that consumed the plains to the north and the peaks of the mountains to the west. He was silent most of the drive, thinking of his long trip home and the grief his family was suffering, but he spoke up and said, "I'm sad that I won't get to see the first snow." He watched the yellow tips of the grass bend with the wind as we sped past. "And all the leaves will be gone when I get home. I wonder if that pretty red bush will still have its leaves or if it will look like twigs sticking up out of the ground..." He trailed off, so I reached for his knee and squeezed it.
He came home today and although the weather has been beautiful and sunny, warm nearly every day since that first snow, it is cold and the wall of clouds is descending once again. It will snow again tomorrow and his poor bush was indeed emptied and abandoned, twiggish and vulnerable, alone along the fence line. It will be a year before those leaves burn as brightly as they do every Autumn and because we are considering finding a small house with a fenced yard in another part of Denver, it is doubtful we'll be here to see it like it was just a few weeks ago.
So this post is for Ken, the man who brought Duncan into my life, the man I have spent more than fifteen years loving, and man who has a heart that burns even brighter and more fiercely than all the colors of October and just as beautifully as those fragile leaves that stood guard on the edge of the place we call home.