In the middle of the end of autumn, I lay on my back in the soft blanket of fallen leaves coating the forest floor and looked up at the oaks and the maples, who were mostly undressed. Each time the air whispered its secrets to them and to the birds and to me, dozens of light yellow leaves fell, each making a quiet crinkle as it wove itself into the blanket. It made me smile.
Have you ever watched a single leaf fall from its tree? It has a unique dance, never seen before, never to be seen again. A dance of divinity. Some leaves spiral tightly and descend quickly. Others meander in larger circles, to the right or to the left, and some few don’t spiral at all, but travel like paper airplanes, weighted by their stems, diving and rising, diving and rising. No two fall quite the same, an homage to the infinite creativity of Nature.
From the time it spreads its wings as a baby bud to the last moment before it decides to tear from its tree, it dances daily in the breeze, waving in acknowledgement of oneness. But none of a leaf’s daily performances compares in beauty to its final dance. It saves the best for the last few seconds before death. Seconds to us, hours to the leaf, an inconceivably brief moment to the trees and to the earth. A leaf dances down to death, its own pallbearer, unaccompanied but unafraid.
This particular funeral is one of the most beautiful things in the world. Each leaf is so happy in its last moments because it knows that it will soon become the very soil that will feed its tree, to be reabsorbed and reborn to flutter again, to practice every day of the year for its next dance.
I hope one day, at the end of my year, that I can dance half as beautifully as the leaves I watched die that day.