Thursday, October 31, 2013

A Changed Heart, a Necessary Sadness

It is no secret that I prefer Spring and Summer over Autumn and Winter. As the season warms and the world greens, I have always felt my spirit change––a thrumming in my blood and bones and a calming to my ever-racing thoughts––as the leaves unfurl on the trees and the blossoms emerge from their brown, bark cocoons, their sweet fragrance wafting across the fields and into my open windows. And then in the fall, when the world turns orange and red, and a perpetual sunset seems to hover over us, a necessary sadness overtakes me with the realization that the birds have fallen silent and the tufts of dandelion and cottonwood snow are an eternity away.

This year I have kept my eye on a single maple leaf that hangs directly in our path when we walk down The Run. Sometime in June a six-legged critter, possibly one of the fat green caterpillars that I marvel at, paused on its journey and snacked a heart-shaped hole into its perfect surface. That shape became a symbol of the joy that overtakes me each Spring, of the love I feel for the season. I have watched it daily, reached with my hand to gently push it out of my way and peer through the heart at the blue sky and green cottonwoods on the other side. I have fallen in love with that lone leaf and have watched for it each and every time Duncan and I have ventured outside on our walks.

This past week, when the weather turned consistently cold and the wind found its bite, I have watched it yellow and then turn orange. This morning I discovered that most of its sibling leaves had been pulled free of their mooring and lay scattered on the ground at our feet. While Duncan peered in Jeffrey's window for a sign of the cats he loves to play with, I rushed forward to check on my leaf with its heart-shaped hole. My stomach dropped, my mind raced. I should have plucked it free and taken it home to keep with me always as a reminder of these days and these walks Dunc and I have shared. When I finally found it, I ran my thumb across its surface and watched it flutter in the wind, its skin, once thick and juicy, now brittle and dry as an old woman's foot. I wanted to pull it loose but then changed my mind and decided to let it be, to allow the wind to carry it at the time of its choosing, at the moment it was destined to fall, flying briefly, rejoicing in a sudden and exhilarating freedom before the hand of gravity pulled it to its final resting spot. Such a simple decision, and one most people would regard as unnecessary, but it took all my will power to let it go, to look back one more time not knowing if I would see it again. And while Duncan ran blissfully across the park, rolling his face against the stiff, frosted grass, my mind kept wandering back to the maple, back to its fate, and that necessary sadness claimed me once again.

There is a fierce wind out tonight, loud and cold and tireless. The branches are beating against each other like old enemies and while Duncan lays curled up at my feet, his chin resting so gently against and warming the top of my foot, my thoughts are out there in the dark, worrying for my heart, wondering if it will still be there in the morning.

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Anonymous said...

I awaIt word, boy, on the fate of the heart on the leaf.

Kevi said...

You brought me to tears. Live your view.

Anonymous said...

Your post reminded me of this quote--"Eternity is in love with the creations of time." William Blake

You have perfectly delivered a glimpse of eternity to us here in the present moment -- Thank you!