Friday, November 09, 2012

The red leaf

Captain Midnight and I drove down to SeaTac today to see his brother, who had a stopover in Seattle before a very long flight to Paris and from there to a West African nation.  We had some time to talk and laugh and eat breakfast together before he had to catch his next flight.

On the way back, CM capitulated to the siren call of technology and stopped by an AT&T store to pick up a new smartphone.  Once again I successfully eluded the forces that continue pressuring me to buy my own smartphone (no! not me! not even a dumbphone!) and sat down to wait for CM's new phone to make an appearance.  Captain Midnight was warm and very nice to cuddle up to on a day where the cold came in waves through the glass-fronted wall of the store.

Just outside the window was a maple tree, its greenish-brown trunk marked by patches of moss. It had dropped most of its leaves; they carpeted the ground beneath the tree in various shades of red and gold.

The leaves still clinging to the tree were all different colors, although they were all about the same age. Some sheltered leaves were still green, though of a different hue than the bright newness of spring green they'd once known. Most were shades of yellow, ranging from pale to vibrant, and a few were veined with dark orange. But the leaves at the very top of the tree -- the ones touched by the most frost and exposure -- had gone red, ranging from a clear scarlet to a deep near-maroon.

Every leaf on this tree had its own beauty, and the fact that the leaves were all different from each other contributed to the beauty of the whole.  But to my eye, the most striking leaves were the red ones -- the leaves that had gone through the hardest frosts of adversity and had emerged transformed, with a hard-won kind of beauty.  And it occurred to me that the only thing that could make these leaves ugly would be trying to undo their natural beauty with artifice -- for instance, if someone had come along and attempted to spray-paint all these leaves spring green again.  Experience doesn't detract from beauty; it contributes to beauty.

Photograph by Whitney Bushman
This is also what a red leaf looks like.  I hope some day I'll be able to say I weathered adversity this well.

Love you, Mom.

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