Sunday, 13 September 2015

Trees And Leaves

It happens here in Calgary, these sudden changes in temperature. Last night, when I went to bed, it was still 24C outside after reaching a high of 30C in the afternoon. This morning, or rather at noon today, it's 10C outside and unlikely to get much warmer. Fall has arrived, with its cool temperatures and intermittent rains. It will warm up this week, but only to the high teens. We have seen the last of summer.

The trees knew this was coming, that the season of warmth was ending. The leaves of many had already begun to yellow, some as early as a few weeks ago. Others held out, keeping their green shade steady until last night. Now, even the most hardy of these has begun the turn. The rain has them, their soaked, sodden leaves hanging limp, ready for the first whip of wind to strip the branches bare.

Autumn outside my window is a duo-chrome; a choice of green and yellow, this being the hue of the most common trees in this area, birch, ash, poplar and aspen. Still it is enough. I can see the tawny shift in colour in the treetops near Nose Hill, off in the distance to the north. They fight, some of these trees, some of these leaves, hanging on as long as possible, defying the weather gods, keeping their attachment. Not all of them lose the battle, whisked off the branch by autumn winds; some hang on until the bitter cold of winter freezes them in place, until a wind snaps them brittle from the branch.

Life is kind of like these trees. All around me they are changing. Some have gone from the brilliant green of summer to the yellow of death early, some as early as a month ago. Some are hanging on, fighting the cold and rain, grasping every bit of life until yellow is forced upon them by the cold and frost. Even within the tree, some leaves seem to have more strength than others, some seeming to be able to withstand so much, others withering before their time.

Yet life is a zero sum game; it all ends. Each moment spent on one thing is a moment lost on another. All of the leaves will fall, eventually. Even the strongest, even the one with the greatest attachment to life, will finally give up its all and drift away on the wind. While my tree is passing into winter too soon, other trees continue on, still green, still growing. Perhaps the best thing is the persistence of life. Even as this season ends, life is preparing for the next. New leaves will replace the old. New life will come.

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