The Autumn Leaf

A russet leaf, already dry and crackling, clung to the oak tree, refusing to relinquish its grasp on the upper limb, for even leafs are reluctant to let go, to accept the passing seasons.

The acorns had fallen weeks before to be stolen by the squirrels from the point of land beneath the oak tree and deposited in a crook of the tree where a cache had slowly accrued. A winter’s supply. Occasionally a nut dropped in the lake, creating a slight ripple, travelling in all directions.

It was late autumn and the leaves had embarked on their quiet descent, forming a blanket that covered the fading grass as the earth prepared to rest. But one leaf clung precariously to a branch although the color had vanished, a solitary leaf, alone as the winds of November ushered in premonitions of winter. One leaf, hanglng on. Still waiting. Tenuously.

Then, on a gray morning when dark clouds held the promise of an early snowfall, the leaf quit its hold and began to descend, to join those that had gone before. Soon it would be part of the leaves already fallen, decompose, enrich the earth and continue the inevitable cycle of life—and death —then life again, as, eventually, a new season would be born.

But even now the stubborn leaf fought its assignment, refusing to accept the inevitable. Like Job’s driven leaf, “Wilt thou harass a driven leaf?” nature’s forces held the leaf in the air, rising then falling, drifting to either side, unable to complete its fall. The rough edges, pinions catching the breeze, constantly changed direction until finally, as if accepting its fate or exhausted from being airborne, the last leaf of autumn glided serenely onto the ground, merging with those that had gone before. No longer a stranger to the flow of time.

A destiny fulfilled. It was sufficient.


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