This fall’s colors are not so vibrant as they sometimes are, following on the heels of a droughted summer and chased by a sodden early autumn that loosened leaves prematurely, leaves that were waiting for a cold snap that never came to convert chlorophyll to the shocking hues that the cold would shoot down their veins. I kept waiting for more, a more that will not come, so I have decided instead to celebrate what is: beauty can sometimes be magnified by its singularity, its standing alone in the midst of the ordinary. As Thoreau said, “Some single trees, wholly bright scarlet, seen against others of their kind still freshly green, or against evergreens, are more memorable than whole groves will be by-and-by. How beautiful, when a whole tree is like one great scarlet fruit full of ripe juices, every leaf, from lowest limb to topmost spire, all aglow, especially if you look towards the sun! What more remarkable object can there be in the landscape? Visible for miles, too fair to be believed. If such a phenomenon occurred but once, it would be handed down by tradition to posterity, and get into the mythology at last.” In wanting, expecting, a blaze of glory, I have failed to notice what is here, a travesty of ingratitude for what I have been given, a failure to bow and worship.
So I am here today, paying penance for my ungrateful distraction, and as I sit, I feel redemption blowing over me. Single brown leaves wheel and twist from high up to the ground. I sense the fall in them and in myself. I confess. I write out words of praise that may not yet be too late. I am bashed softly on the side of my head by an errant leaf and I startle, awakened a bit more to the beauty around me. Today I will marvel at a single scarlet leaf among the mostly brown, pluck a lemon yellow specimen from an otherwise bare branch, celebrate the crunching, crackling, rowdy sound of the leaves as I shuffle through them if I cannot exult in their fiery hues.