colorful leaves

Sal picked up the acorn from the leaves. The boy watched. Sal stared at the little nut for a moment like a bug under a microscope.

“That an acorn?” the boy asked.


“What tree is it from?”

Sal said, “Oak.”

The boy and the man walked slowly through the edge of the yard, shuffling their boots amongst the scattering Autumn leaves. Every now and then, the boy would spot a tiny branch sticking up out of the brightly colored detritus and pick it up, snapping off little pieces and redistributing them back to the forest floor.

“Can we plant it?” the boy asked.

Sal was silent for a moment, as if it took a massive amount of mental calculations to figure out whether you could cover this particular seed with dirt.

“You know,” Sal finally answered, “All the information needed to turn this small nut into a huge tree and keep it alive and flourishing for the next one hundred years is right here inside this small little shell.”

The child was about to repeat his question when he thought better of it. When adults got like this, it was better to let them ramble on until they were done.

Sal said, “I wonder if it has any notions, as it’s growing, that it has any say in what kind of tree it’s going to become?”

Sal trailed off for another unquantifiable moment.

The boy watched Sal turn the acorn over and over with his leathery, crinkled hands.

“If we don’t plant it,” the boy said matter-of-factly, “we’ll never know.”

He didn’t think this answered Sal’s question, but then again Sal hadn’t answered his question either and the boy had an agenda, after all. If they planted it now, by the time he was his brother’s age, and allowed to climb trees like his brother, he should have a huge tree to climb back in his own yard. In the boy’s subdivision, the developers had killed all but a few trees before they built their houses. The boy figured the trees got in the way somehow. It was the boy’s turn to ponder things now.

“So even though it’s not doing anything right now, it’s alive in there?”


“But you have to put it in the dirt and water to grow it . . . or it just . . .”

The boy wasn’t sure. How long could whatever was in there live if you didn’t plant it?

Sal said, “It dies. You can’t tell from the outside, not right away, but it just dries up on the inside.”

Then he suddenly handed the seed to the boy as if he’d wanted nothing to do with it in the first place.

The Colors of Autumn


A cool wind brushes my face today and I realize, with a surreal clarity, that today is the first day of Autumn. Maybe that’s not what the calender says, but I know this breeze is the first of its kind this year. A refreshing harbinger of seasonal change and nature’s yearly metamorphosis, the wave of air nudges me slightly, inviting me to be a part of a cycle that has run its course for millions of years.

I close my eyes for a moment and a nostalgia-undefined bathes me in a memory that, though it swallows me whole and I float momentarily in its comfortable bliss, does not lend itself wholly to me but rather reaches out to slight me with its dreamlike tendrils and then fades completely, leaving behind only a whisper of pleasant recollections lost to time.

The swath of wind continues its path around me like a gelatinous parcel of time, plucked from Mother Nature herself just for me, and reforms itself behind me as it mingles with its airy brethren to continue on a never-ending journey.

Though my eyes are closed, I can see. I can see the crimson, water-colored maples sliced in half by the power lines next to our house. The acrylic yellow oaks placed carefully at intervals by a hand more knowing than our own, intermittently scattered to balance a picturesque landscape weighted heavily with evergreens who appear oblivious to Autumn’s protocol. The dry crunch underfoot as small feet wade through ankle high leaves on their way to all the neighbor’s houses with sweet expectations. The blur of color through the backseat car window, the bright canopies mixing together like a spinning color wheel. The orange peel horizon bleeding to a dark red, and then purple, matching the freshly painted forest, tree tops outlining a jagged graph of nature herself as the colored leaves and woods meld into one giant, charcoal landscape, as if the Universe itself had punctured the atmosphere and leaked its heavenly ink down on our world, all the while filtering the stars and keeping them above, something to focus on when the world turns dark. The glassy, upside down reflection of ocher and scarlet leaves on a clam, early morning lake, still sleeping under a blanket of mist, yet to stir.

I have stood in place, feet planted firmly like a statue, and traveled through the mountains of my hometown, the forests of my past, the streets of my childhood on Halloween, the wayside tapestries of youthful road trips, and the colorful horizons of lakes and rivers.



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