On Falling Leaves
(once again)

Dateline: 8 October 2013

Last Sunday (two days ago) I was in the grip of malaise. I had an annoying ache behind my left eye and a general feeling of ennui. I didn’t go to church and pretty much sat around all day. The thought occurred to me that I might have a brain tumor, but I typically go through this in the fall. It happens when I get overtired and don’t get a good night’s sleep. I think it’s a sinus thing. So I was pretty much out of commission for the day.

The good part is that, while sitting back in my recliner and looking out the back door (as pictured above), I noticed the leaves. You may think, well, it’s hard not to notice leaves when you look into a forested piece of land. But I don’t mean that. I mean that I noticed the individual leaves—the ones that, in the gentle rustle of the wind, were breaking loose and falling to the ground. This is a natural phenomenon that everyone sees, but hardly anyone takes the time to really look at. It’s kind of like knowing something but not really understanding what you know.

Some of you may recall that I posted an essay to this blog back in 2009 about my thoughts on falling leaves. Readers come and go and it's a rare person who takes the time to go back and read every post I've ever written, so I’m posting what I wrote once again (below). 

There are people who travel to the far corners of the earth to see natural wonders of all sorts, but if you have trees, there is a remarkable natural wonder that takes place every season, right in your own backyard. It’s there if you take the time, and have the faith to see it....

The Last Dance

August in upstate New York can be downright hot, but the evenings start getting cooler. Those of us who are sensitive to natural-world tangibles and harbingers do not need a calendar or television weather man to know autumn is waiting in the wings.

Foliage on the many hardwood trees of this region is currently a mature, dominant green. But a few weeks from now the chlorophyll will retreat. The show of bright and brilliant colors will then make its 2009 debut.

Certain members of the cast will, however, leap into their role before the main event. Perhaps it is impetuousness. It might be wanderlust. Whatever the case, I’m inclined to think it is surely an overriding Providence that compels these select few, prematurely-yellowed and age-spotted, to disengage and play their role. Which brings me to a preliminary observation...

While it is the appointed destiny of all broad leaves here in northeastern America to die and fall to earth, it is worth noting that no two of the countless numbers of such leaves are exactly the same in appearance. What’s more, every leaf takes a different path on its first and final journey to the earth. I can not substantiate those claims based on extensive, bona fide scientific studies. That’s hardly necessary. I know such things from simply observing leaves.

And now we come to a particular observation, and a particular realization, that settled into my consciousness in this last month of August....

It happened that I was sitting outside on my backyard patio, with my wife, having a morning cup of coffee, enjoying the stillness of the rural world around us, and I looked up to see a single, pale leaf fall from the tall, green canopy of woods bordering my back yard. I say that I watched this leaf “fall” but it did not truly fall, at least not like, for example, I would fall were I to imagine myself a leaf and let go from a high tree branch. Rather, this leaf took its sweet time, wafting and floating downward. Then it actually did a stunning pirouette, flattened out, and waved, before settling gently onto the bricks of my patio, not far from where I sat.

I thought this leaf danced for me. Then I thought better. It occurred to me that the leaf danced its way to earth for its Creator, for His glory, and I was only privileged to see it.

Could this possibly be? Did God create the world so that every falling leaf would perform a unique dance for Him? You could call such a thought whimsey, or romanticism, or poetic license, but I’m persuaded that there is much more than meets the eye when it comes to this matter. I now believe that every leaf, no matter how common, is uniquely beautiful, and that leaves do not truly fall.

I think that I shall never see, a dance as beautiful, as that of a leaf falling gently from its tree.


Play in the dirt said...

In the past, you wrote about a book that you had read... or at least you linked to it somehow. In that excerpt that I read it talked about a farmer with a unique compost system. It involved cables and pulleys and a long trough that was next to the barn. The farmer would use the pulleys and cables to transport manure and waste from the barn to the trough, along with other compostables, and once a year would put it on his 80 acre farm fields.

Is there any chance you remember what book that was or where you linked to it? I read it probably two years ago, or possibly more and would love to find it again.

Thanks again,

Herrick Kimball said...


I think you might be remembering a link I once posted to... My Grandfather's Earthworm Farm

Check it out and see if that's it.

Gorges Smythe said...

If rocks can shout for joy and trees can clapm their hands, I'm sure they could (and would) dance for the Lord.

Play in the dirt said...

That was it, thank you! I can't remember how many times I wanted to tell others about that and couldn't remember it...