The trees have sealed the spots where the leaves are attached, not allowing fluids to flow in and out of them, which change color and fall off. The falling of the leaves does more than mark the season, it also helps the tree survive the cold, dry air of winter. Humans are also preparing for the dropping temperatures of the colder months. Where fire places are lit, winter blankets make their resurrection and even men’s hearts grow cold with the heightened stress and violence that occur during the holidays. As November eases its way in and we prepare to wrap up another year, my thoughts settle upon change.
It’s not always easy to embrace change. It is something that happens so frequently in our lives and yet remains something new; moving in and out of our day with the same glide as oil to a pan. Starting with a puddle and then auctioning pieces of itself off into different directions. This is not easy for us to do; to forgo tradition for a road less traveled by. To be reborn in a way that blows our minds and challenges us to become different. To think and to act in a way that is new; to adapt to a foreign idea or practice.
Those crippling brown leaves, the ones that have hardened across our front yards, begging to be burned or thrown into the trash are not pleasant to see. But if the tree did not embrace the change coming upon it, sealing the spots where the leaves grow, it would die. When spring brings warm air and fresh water, the tree will sprout new leaves and start growing again.
Like the unmovable tree, standing so bold against the bite of winter, and naked with vulnerability, I challenge you to change your routine for the sake of incorporating a new experience into your daily lives. Mine will be getting back into my workout routine, and cutting back on snacks.
While change can be difficult, it comes with a kind of strength that can only be experienced to define, and has the potential to open us up to endless possibilities, causing our minds to stretch beyond the limit. Embracing change, in short, frees us from the captivity of routine, and the stagnancy of ritual.
After a steamy summer season and an autumn just as cool and laid back as the stride of a black man winter finally showed up on my Louisiana door step. First of all the trip to New Mexico was dangerously exciting as the snow storm ripped through the little town and pretty much showed it whose boss. Tiny snowflakes, all beautiful and delicate, proved beyond the shadow of a doubt that size and appearance mean nothing. Those miniature beauties piled one on top the other until we were knee deep in snow. Having endured the rigors of Chicago winters my whole life it was refreshing to see snow again albeit under such conditions. The roads were nothing short of a mess, as if a group of children had taken the opportunity to experiment with slush and dumped it on the tops of buildings that now moaned the loss of roof tops and shingles. Cars were doomed but not even the average pick-up truck could sustain the beast that tore through this small town that is usually not equipped to handle such weather. New Mexico was in a state of emergency and we were smack down in the middle of it. (You risk takers you!) The fog was so thick that you couldn’t see in front of you, like when steam takes over the bathroom after a hot shower and blocks your view of the mirror. We had to slow down and eventually stop on the way over it was so cloudy. You’ve never seen the sky milked like this before.
In any event, by this time last year Shreveport had already seen a splash of snow so we half-heartedly expected to come back to warmer weather. That is until I stepped out the car early this morning, when the sun is still hiding behind the clouds and many of you were calling hogs in your sleep, to the bitterness of the air.
“Well, then. Good morning winter. Nice to see you again.”
In Shreveport, it started off with a collection of rain drops. They took the opportunity to brave the cooling breath of the skies for a chance to taste the ground. Some of them managed to lick rooftops, light poles, and the hoods of cars; relaxing liquid bodies into the cracks of the earth. But others, others were not so lucky. For the clouds let loose its storage place of wind and paralyzed their bodies midair. They had not the privilege of melting before their frozen futures hit the ground, many of them solidifying into ice cycles and poor trees. You have been suckered into shedding your skin again in the beloved south. Not moments after you begin to bud, the once soft petal of flower must choose not to photosynthesize, but to hibernate more inside that place where flowers go when they do not yet exist.
But what of all of this?
While I do not enjoy the cold (at all) it is a great time to read. And after the glaring sun the crisp bite to the air is refreshing. It is the time to find a good book. To lock yourselves into your dwellings. To warm a pot of tea, hot chocolate or coffee. To curl your legs into yourself and bury both your body and mind into the warm and compassionate world of words.
Yea yea yea, it’s officially Autumn, so what. Today marks my least favorite time of the year for the Western part of the world. For one, I don’t celebrate holidays, so this is the time where people look at me like I got 3 eyeballs, a long green nose, and a broomstick hid away somewhere. At this time of the year flowers and pretty plants wither, and everything loses its vibrant colors and instead becomes a collection of blacks and grays.
The trees look creepy all naked like that, someone should find some leaves to cover them. This is basically the time of year where everything dies and the Earth is cold (and I utterly despise the cold).
What I do like about the Autumn (or what I like to call the reading) months is the peace it brings to our homes on the inside. Since were pretty much buried in, this is the time to catch up on some much needed studying. It is the time to cook foods that warm your soul like Chili, Greens, and Macaroni and Cheese fresh out the oven. And it is the time where we must turn up the heat and snuggle under the covers next to our lovers.
Speaking of cuddling, this time of the year makes movie night a lot more exciting than the summer months. In the summer, no one wants to be in the house because it’s so very nice outside. Summer is the time to get out and about and smell the fresh air. Winter and Fall however, is the time to be homebodies. A time to relax with a cup of warm tea, hot chocolate or coffee. I mean sure, you have a cup of coffee every morning but none of them can compare to the feeling of having the steamy liquid to engulf your throat when it’s bitter cold outside.
The Fall / Winter months are also a great time to read so I will be looking to put my Fall Reading List together. I think perhaps I’ll even challenge myself to get through a certain number of books this year. My only set back is that I don’t want it to cut down on my scripture reading time so I’ll have to stick to a nice balanced schedule. I mean you know, priority is everything.
Is this time of the year exciting to you? Is it not exciting? Why? I would love to hear your pros and cons!
The trees are not ashamed of their nakedness. They have stepped out of their summer wear, short sleeved leaves that now lay idle upon the course concrete. Some have managed to fall upon the now stiff soil in hopes the dirt may integrate them back into the earth and they be born again by way of decomposition. But the winds will not give them rest, will not honor the time it takes for them to eventually disintegrate but will instead blow its breath against the now crackling foliage into my front yard. I have nothing against the leaves, but they should know that their friends have been here twice this week already and I am not apt to redeem them again. First of all, winter has showed up again on my Louisiana doorstep unannounced. It carries on the shoulders of the skies only black and whites and gray; a dull reminder that it is time for me to hibernate under the covers. I have bills to pay sure, but my boss doesn’t know that I have an uninvited guest this morning and will not be able to report to work. This is not about me though; this is about them…those dreadful leaves. I’m convinced they know what they’re doing. Like me, they wish only to escape the cold. They’ve spent enough time hanging out against the backdrop of tree bark long enough to know that darker colors are absorbers of light and thereby become better radiators of heat. For this reason they anxiously wait for me to assemble them into those big black garbage bags. Never mind that my face might fall off; that the frigid air will smack me across the head with its hand pulling my face along with it. And how would that look to the neighbors? A faceless woman fighting leaves on the front yard. They care nothing about this though, selfish leaves. They actually depend on my need to see color again. To do away with the browns and the grays and the blacks for just one more chance to see the sun play hide and seek upon the vibrant green of freshly cut grass—undisturbed by the ugly brown leaves sleeping in the back yard.
But today this will just have to suffice. I don’t feel like having to explain to my neighbors why I have no face. I am not yet ready to face the beat down I have coming to me for the chance to scrape up things that will just be here again 20 minutes after I am done. So now dear leaves run along now. Find someone else to pick on your bully’s. I am not your salvation today.