|The last leaves of Fall|
There is a tree near the entrance to my home, near the Charles River, that I pass under in my daily comings and goings. This mature weeping cherry tree is over 40 feet tall; its magnificence shows in spring with pink blossoms like cotton candy. First blossoms of the season usher me from a winter mentality where the slow pace of a New England winter takes hold. However, the first day over 50 degrees and the first daffodil blossom are a long way off.
Instead, now when I look up into the bare branches of that weeping cherry tree, devoid of leaves and entering its own dormant slumber, I think not of firsts but of lasts.
Our lives are bookended by firsts and lasts in an unending cycle of beginnings and endings. I readily notice the first blossom on the trees along the Charles River but do I notice the last leaf fall? For every tree there is going to be the one final leaf holding tight to summer memories of long days and warm nights. We often celebrate the firsts of life but why don’t we celebrate the lasts? I wish I were present when the last leaf fell from the weeping cherry tree by my front door. What a graceful moment suspended in time.
Like a skydiver jumping from an airplane I hear the last leaf yell from the top of its thousands of stomata lungs “ONE, TWO, THREE GO!”…Its stem detaches with vigor in a spiraling display of aerobatics. Off it flies on the windy breath of fall. This is the big moment. Donned in ecstatic yellow the last leaf whirls and pirouettes redefining glamour, grace, and outlandish flamboyancy. Freefall flight – who hasn’t dreamt of flying? The last leaf beams with joy from vein to vein and laps up the sensual cool breezes of a life lived. This is the climax of a leaf’s life – a leaf is born to fly.
When I see a leaf fall I feel happy to be witnessing the embodiment of full potential reached. This fall I’m celebrating the lasts – the last leaf fall, the last day over 50 degrees, the last hardy rose wilt. Behind every last is, of course, a first. First snowfall, first starlight winter night sky, first cozy fire in the fireplace, first frozen river, first…