One peaceful Autumn afternoon on my way home from school, I stopped at the final left turn before entering my gated community. 22.6 miles later, I catch myself listening to “Tilikum” full volume, as I start to brainstorm ideas for a nature essay I must write. Then, all of a sudden, it hit me. Figuratively and literally; out of the corner of my eye I catch the scene of leaves falling into my windshield. I watched one by one as each leaf got stuck in the plastic pole that wipes away blinding rain and debris, except for this instance, I didn't want it to execute its useful job. I stared deeply at the wipers and waited eagerly for the colorful leaves to be kicked out and thrown back unto Earth’s damaged ground. As expected, the leaves heard the wind’s loud call and decided to dance with it, leaving my sight forever. I never thought chloroplasts could be so admirable.
One would never say a leaf is something that makes life worthwhile, they seem to go as unnoticed as windows. Yet for that solitary moment, the leaf became a living miracle which unplugged me from everything; the stress of the quarter ending, the exhaustion of driving for over an hour, the pain of my little brother leaving for the weekend. It sucked me in and calmed me, such as it sucks in light . After all, turning light into life is its occupation.
Masked adjectives fill botanists’ minds when describing ‘pinnate’ leaves, as trees discard their own yellow and red masks in order to grow green ones. As I looked deeper, I saw scars, different scars each with their own meaning. Scientists like to call them ‘veins’ but I saw much more than that, I saw the tears and the pain , the happiness and the laughter. I started to notice that leaves truly are miracles, none being the same yet all being so imperfectly perfect. Imperfection becomes beautiful and diversity becomes enticing. Rutherford Platt explains how “...the outlines of individuals attract the eye, no artist could draw more glamorous points, curves, waves, and angles.” We humans are encompassed in nature as nature is encompassed in us. Mountains become strong, storm winds become cruel, and hues of orange in a sunset become angelic.
Maybe it wasn’t the correlation between me and the leaf stuck in the glass, but maybe— just maybe— it was the thought of it falling that kept me so intrigued.
Leaves fall to the ground, slowly and without a sound. Forming a carpet of pleasing colors until they’re stepped upon and, all of a sudden, the world’s pause resumes with the sound of the crisp air breaking. Breaking, falling, hurting. Pain also drowned my thoughts as November 1940 came into my mind. Gunshots fell and reality broke soldier’s tranquil thoughts of family at home and the horror of war carpeted their brains, like leaves carpeting the sweet Earth ; leaving them physical and mental scars forever. Dysfunctional memories clogged their brains as autumn leaves clogged the streets with warm colors and filled kids with everlasting happiness as they jumped into them.
Scars bring back memories and trigger experiences. Our scars tell our stories, as leaves’ scars do too. Perhaps through falling do leaves find their place and create the stories behind their scars, as do I as I step among them and reveal the truth in mine.