Stem smooth and pliable, the fabric of leaf body stretched between veins of red. It catches on the ridges of my fingers and with my eyes closed I think I could dive into this. Dive deep into the meeting of my flesh with the flesh of the tree. Deep into the pulse which is faded but I still feel. Bump bump a rhythm faint a ghost of an impression, pressing against the pulse of my fingertips traveling up the tiny capillaries into the veins into arteries to heart and whoosh back around again.
It carries the thought of the tree itself, root and branch, trunk and shoots now turning spotted red and and green and fading to brown. As I feel the pulse of the tree the tree feels the pulse of our turning earth, feels the day cycling shorter spinning endlessly in space. Turning face away from the sun, tilt, tilt.
The tilting turning rhythm causes tree to begin to pull resources inward. Drop extremities; leaves that drift, and swirl twirl and drop, but not like a stone. Drop and drift, blown left, now right, now touching down upon others now turned brown. Crunch crisp swish swish beneath boots, into tines of rakes, picked up by tiny hands that push them, crumbling treasures, into pockets. Some make it inside to be pasted onto papers, or tied up with string to hang glorious crimson and gold above a table where we may eat.
Pulling into core of self tree begins to go quiet, resources reserves. Even here in Oakland, California where it rarely, you think, it rarely gets that cold. What are the trees getting ready for? But it’s not the temperature, it’s the loss of time with the sun and an extended relationship with the night. Darkness comes in lengthening embrace of day. Trees make ready for the dance with shadows. Hours beneath stars, more hours sparkling in moonlight and leaves can’t make food under star and moon.
Can’t make food from star and moon and so must go. Must be let go and so sever the connection from branch to leaf. It’s called abscission, like scissors this process of cells cutting the leaf from it’s branch. Elegant and conservative, trees reabsorb valuable nutrients from their leaves and store them for later use in their roots. Cells are brought back into the fold and broken down for use, green is eaten becomes red, orange and gold and finally brown. Finally cells that severed, cover the cut and seal the opening to protect the heart of things. Resources now become mulch. Resources allocated , reallocated and reused now as cover for roots and food for soil microbes.
There is some lesson here for us of course, when we turn in our own rhythms from action to inaction from light to inward dark. Looking to nature there is always a meaning to be drawn. The natural world is a fount of information for us. In addition we are meaning making machines and can find symbolism anywhere….in traffic patterns, in fashion trends. When we turn from motion into stillness those things which formerly served us well can be dropped, resources reused and reallocated to feed our roots and warm our feet, to become food of another sort. We seem to value growth over reallocation, seem to be stuck in the spring phase of life, always growing growing growing, when in reality we benefit from the stillness and the dark that causes us to turn inward, contemplating our own core, our own heart. Dropping those things no longer needed, pairing down patterns, shining the jeweled core of self beneath mulch of our own making. This is what our world needs, more of us moving in time with our own seasons. More of us moving away from externally imposed cycles and coming to home to our own.
The moon and star time of our soul; quiet, inward mulched for winter with our own used shoots and leaves. We burn inner energy in the dark.
When the cycle turns us around again into action, sound and light we use that stored energy for new shoots, new openings to the sun, to the light and so darkness becomes light again, stillness becomes actions silence becomes sound. We are propelled into growth, as the sun lengthens, as the light catalyzes our cells, pop pop po…
The sound of blood rushing through the veins. The pulse of energy through my fingers, my hands, my heart beating loud to me and yet quiet in the room. The fabric of the leaf green and red catches on the ridges of my fingers as I trace the smooth highways of veins and stem.