I know that someday you'll find better things.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012


For the first time in as long as I can remember, the leaves are turning in Texas.

Some years, it seems like the fall leaves are still clinging to the trees even as spring arrives; the tender new sprouts have the responsibility of evicting last year’s residents before they can begin their own lives.

When I first moved here, I hadn’t realized how much I would miss leaf-peeping. I hadn’t thought about the leaves at all. August, September, and October passed—all hot—and eventually it was November, with the only real sign of winter’s approach being that the pool temperature had decreased to an unswimmable status.

One day I received a notice that I had a package waiting at the post office. A friend had mailed me a shoebox stuffed with fall foliage.

“So you can smell autumn,” his note read.

I kept that shoe box for years.

The leaves this year are spectacular—I should probably start gathering shoeboxes and addresses of distant friends. Twice while driving, I’ve pulled the car over to take pictures of the lovely trees. 

The leaves lining a particular section on Hedgcoxe were especially magnificent. They were saturated in an array of the very best crayon names: maize, raw umber, mahogany--and more!-- smokey topaz, tiger's eye, burnt sienna. Vermillion.

Last week, I piled the kids into the car after school and drove up and down the strip beneath that firey canopy. They rolled their eyes each time I hollered, “Here we go, guys! Get ready to look up!”

Back and forth we went, making illegal u-turns, until the kids finally asked if we could please head home to start homework.

Party poopers. Don’t they know how fleeting this beauty is?

My carpe diem spirit is maybe not as authentic as I’d have them believe, for this thought prowls at the edges of my mind:

I drove this route every day for the past five years and NEVER noticed these glorious flaming pillars. Are the leaves truly more colorful this year, or am I merely more mindful? Less stressed? Less preoccupied?

I told all of this to my husband; he’d driven that same road, too.
I asked if he’d noticed the leaves.

He hadn’t.

On Saturday we made a point to drive by, but the once-coppery leaves were now dull and shriveled. Many had already dropped. We’d missed it. Disappointment swelled inside of me. I’d wanted to share the magic with him.

Two days later on the way back from the library, I noticed a new grove of colorful trees—and later that week, the ones in our own yard morphed into personal sunsets, too.

I’m thankful that the leaves don’t turn at once, all on the same day. 
Mother Nature, perennial parent, is so good about giving us second chances to absorb the beauty and the wonder of the world around us.

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