How to see leaves:
I have not seen leaves for years. Oh, I have seen them as bright color massed on the Blue Ridge Parkway and as golden lines of Aspen piercing through the dark green pine of our Montana mountains.
Those were leaves on trees. I have seen them off trees hoping for a wind to blow them into my nighbors yard so that I would not have to rake them. I have scuffled through them with a faint memory of having done that before, long ago, clear back. Now I scuffle through them because that is what adults do, scuffle through.
But then I went for a walk with a three year old. It was a slow walk. Three year olds rarely keep lap tops or Blackberrys to tell them what to do and when to do it. Three year olds are close to the ground so they see things that sixty year olds do not. Three year olds are young enough to wonder. They take their time, and yours, and then see leaves, really see leaves.
“Here’s a cool one, Grandpa,” she says. In fact, she says that about every leaf. Dried up brown ones, green ones not yet dressed for the fall showing, yellow ones that are common, and bright red ones that seem to be the pick of the crop but to her are just one part of the sidewalk smorgasbord of autumn.
I worry about her. She seems to have no taste. After all, some have to be cooler than others. But she thinks all of them are cool, and we put them in her hat to take back home.
An assortment of leaves that seen through her eyes are truly cool, truly beautiful. Every leaf, no matter how common, how tiny, how browned at the edges or frayed at the stem is worthy of her genuine admiration.
And for the first time in a long time, I start seeing leaves. Not just as a panoramic display, fireworks of fall, but as leaves. Each one unique, singular, special. “Look Grandpa, here’s a cool one!” And it is. Want to really see some leaves? Take a three-year-old on a walk. The journey will take longer but it will be worth it. And who knows? Maybe even you, scuffling hurriedly through it all can start to see that each leaf is indeed a “cool one.”
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