Fall Colors Original Post October 24, 2009
During my walks this week, I have been treated to a riot of color. As you know from my first installment, this is still my first year of regular evening walks on the trails of Ault Park. It’s been a delight to watch the gradual deepening of colors as fall displays its natural changes.
Earlier this week I turned down the last Observatory hill from under an immediate canopy of leaves to see a grand pallet of colors; reds, yellows, oranges and even hints of maroon edging into purple. The park’s weeping cherry trees put on a daily, almost balletic performance, changing from green to reds and orange, before falling from their branches with an orange-yellow hue. The colors are vibrant, bright and beautiful. The trails were carpeted with all these dappled colors, as the leaves spend their last hours before beginning their decay into the arboreal legacy of the forest floor.
Tonight, after a full day of drenching rain, the leaves became like a waxed floor. Suddenly, my dog Trevor took off after a squirrel and I began to skate along the Ridge Trail, being pulled by his leash until I could get a firm footing against a root to halt his nose-down pursuit. “T-dog” will dream of it tonight and the squirrel will sleep soundly after loudly defending his lofty winter perch, staring down at us with its own bark and a few defiant flicks of its tail.
The immediate signs of the annual autumnal cycle of life played out before me and put me in mind of the analogy to our own human cycle. The woods offer up a quick study of this natural cycle, from the fresh, frail seedlings that gird for their first winter to the adolescent saplings that yearn for space and light to the mature giants that shout with color before yielding yet another crop of leaves to the deepening soil.
And there is dying and death. The beauty of the foliage precedes the leaves’ final bow before they fall to the forest floor and seemingly melt into the rich, lush soil that will produce yet another and another spring and summer of leaves. And the giant, fallen trunks that lie on the floor of the woods, from the freshly fallen to the now rotting, disintegrating piles that snake through the woods, yielding to the earth.
The leaves, the trees and all the plants of the woods are a natural product of the “stuff” of Mother Earth, arising from the “substantial lineage” of Creation. As mentioned in Woods Walking #2, the potency of the common substance that we share in being, upon which our very existence depends, is playing out its current display from a long continuum of coming to be. From the raw, primal elements of the Big Bang – hydrogen, helium and lithium – through the pressure of stellar furnaces that yielded all the elements that we know today — this “stuff” now is highly organized in a physical, chemical matrix that yields life in all its joys and sorrows, in all its newness, youth, aging and dying.
And I, amidst this play of life, am of an age to have seen the birth of my own daughter and the death of my own parents. Yet I see here in these woods that the yielding of life is to yet another generation, and generations to come after these. The plants and trees write their legacy in the soil under foot, while we reflect on what we see before us, communicate it and pass our own legacies on to our family, friends and offspring. Ours is a legacy of the Word and of knowledge, of life and love. These are our soil.
And we express our joy and gratitude back to God our Creator and to the Communion of Saints within the Body of Christ, the living legacy of our second birth through death into that Eternal Communion, as we realize – and live – the potential of this “stuff” of Creation from which all life springs. We, as the human offspring of God’s Creation, witness the beauty and glory of our very existence and opportunity to share in it and reflect our wonder and joy over it to our loved ones and back to our Creator.
I stop on the trail for a moment and revel in my own “I am.” I reflect on the long continuum of time that has led to my personal coming to be and this current moment, here on this 23rd day of October in the year 2009 A.D./C.E., at the colorful dusk of another day. I trace my genealogy that yields to the forest floor, to the stuff of being and the “substantial lineage” back to the moment of creation. This reflection yields to an instantaneous Presence within which, in spirit, I lay prostrate in humility and thankfulness for this wondrous, ineffable Gift of Life. Tonight, there is no infused contemplation, just a personal upwelling of joy and gladness; from me to You.
Then Trevor pulls at the leash, I come back to self. Time, and the evening — and we — march on.
During outdoor walking practice – in order to connect more deeply with all of the healing elements within and around you – you may want to stop walking from time to time and simply breathe ~ Thich Nhat Hanh
Copyright © 2009 Rudolph Siegel