“But if I let go,” asked leaf, “won’t I fall?”
“It depends,” replied tree, “what you call falling, others call flying.”
Thoughts while making
I saw the dance of shadow and light first, an orgy of flame licking sky.
Then smoke. Walnut, cedar, hickory, and pine kissing a cold fall night.
The lantern hung above the cabin door lit the final feet of trail. And there he was, stirring the fire, embers sparking, his signature beard just as I’d imagined.
He nodded to a log, inviting me to sit, and before I could speak, he began:
“October is the month of painted leaves,” he said softly. “Their rich glow now flashes round the world. As fruits and leaves and the day itself acquire a bright tint just before they fall, so the year near its setting. October is its sunset sky.”
Shuffling his feet, he continued,
“It is pleasant to walk over the beds
of these fresh, crisp, and rustling leaves.
How beautifully they go to their graves! How gently lay themselves down and turn to mould!”
His name was Henry. Ken had told me about him, about his Maine Woods.
“They that soared so loftily, how contentedly they return to dust again, and are laid low, resigned to lie and decay at the foot of the tree, and afford nourishment to new generations of their kind, as well as to flutter on high! They teach us how to die.”
“Or,” I asked, “Do they teach us how to live?’
Henry smiled, pausing long enough for me to realize these were but the same, smoke connecting earth and star.
Leaning in closer, he explained in a near whisper, “All this you surely will see, and much more, if you are prepared to see it,—if you look for it....”
“Objects are concealed from our view, not so much because they are out of the course of our visual ray as because we do not bring our minds and eyes to bear on them; for there is no power to see in the eye itself, any more than in any other jelly.”
Looking at me now, he shared, “There is just as much beauty
visible to us as we are prepared to appreciate—not a grain more.”
What beauty do you wish to open your eyes to this fall?
Quotes from Henry David Thoreau and his essay “Autumnal Tints, The Atlantic)