When The Leaves Fall

Antonis H. Diamataris – Publisher/Editor of the National Herald

Nature is slowly preparing, step-by-step, day and night for the long, cruel winter: not an entirely unpleasant phenomenon. The sky is despondent, but the air is cool, crisp, clean. Every breath is delightful.

The moon a glittering ball, tantalizingly close to the Earth, yet distant, ironic just above the road, defiantly cool, different from the moon of August.

What portends the great seasonal change more than everything else that occurs, with absolute certainty, is the trees. Nature prepares to welcome the winter.

Before the curtain falls on autumn, however, the leaves on the trees make another desperate attempt to survive. They become transformed, refusing to leave quietly, merely falling to earth, to die, to be forgotten, even as they know they sacrifice themselves fore the greater good: for the survival of the tree.

Nature presents one of the most dazzling pictures the human eye encounters. A divine combination of colors so beautiful it takes one’s breath away: red, purple, yellow, in all shades and combinations. The trees, the forests form an amazing painting.

Ultimately, they bow to their inevitable fate: beginning with the weakest, followed as the days pass, more and more, thousands are soon blowing in the wind.

But they still do not depart quietly. They resist, refusing to surrender without a final, playful farewell:

Separated from their twigs, they do their dance, sliding sideways, a step to the left, a step to the right, almost embracing the others, some clumsily, taking their final terpsichorean turns before slumping, exhausted, onto the Earth, resting near their siblings .

Have you ever wondered how many leaves are on a single tree? Nobody knows precisely. “Countless” would be a good answer. Of course, the answer depends on its species and its age. Most argue that a typical tree has about 100,000 to 250,000 leaves.

So, soon the trees will be left bare. A sure sign that winter will not be long in coming.

But the return of the leaves, on the other hand, is a beautiful harbinger of spring. The resurrection of nature. The resurrection of hope. Warmth for humanity.

(Editors note: This commentary was first published – with minor differences – in November 2011)