This is a good time of year to contemplate things. Autumn comes early in the mountains, and it is always a time of endings and beginnings for me. It’s the end of the business season with tourism to the mountains, the beginning of our off-season adventures. It is the end of many acquaintanceships made over the summer, but the beginning of a sweet season of nuthin-but-family. It is the end of busy-ness for business and the beginning of busy-ness with projects.
I have always found transitions like this are good times for self-reflection. This morning, breathing the thick, hazy air of lingering fires, I gazed into the changing leaves up on the hill. The pictures I took of them crudely immortalizes their passing beauty. Like cherry blossoms or impossible happiness, they are ephemeral.
Something so temporary and yet unending as they stretch over hundreds of miles, such a brief flare of flaming glory, seems as though it should last forever. Casting my eyes over the multitudes of changing leaves, I think of time.
When I look forward into my life, in the autumns my eyes may yet see, the moments seem as numerous as the leaves on the trees.
But they aren’t.
Even this fantastical show of color in my mountains will wane, and it will eventually end when the last leaves fall.
The infinities of youth wax into adulthood and, when all our color has burst upon the world, our last leaves will tumble to the frozen earth as well.
A friend recently told me about something his father always says: whenever you have to make a big decision, you should make it in a graveyard – because there, looking at all that’s left of us when we’re gone, we can see what really matters.
That date of birth followed by a date of death, with only the notation of a loved one or family, sums up the leaves of our lives collected into one tidy heap, doesn’t it? More importantly, it reminds us that those moments are precious because they are finite.
Take a second to breathe the autumn air when it sweeps through your heart and home, and think of the changing colors and what they might mean for the number of leaves you have left. Burn bright, be bold, and live well, dear heart.