Autumn Leaves

(Published in Armenian Observer Nov.7, 2012 issue)
Every so often, I go to a spot which overlooks the valley. I watch and wait for leaves of the trees below to turn their colors before breaking away from their branches in the cycle of life to say autumn is here and to welcome the winter. This year the wait is long. But if I gaze long enough with immersed attention at the bark of a tree and follow its form through the branches, a revelation of sorts takes place. I can transport myself through thoughts to a time when I happened to make a stop in Jermuk, Armenia, some years ago.
Autumn leaves were starting to fall crimson and orange; they spiraled like tiny, twirling ballerinas across the windshield of the car. It was the midst of time for autumn colors, that three week stretch of October when winds pick up and the first signs of cold air strike. The city was its quiet ghost-like self with its tree lined two main streets. An occasional resident with a small bag of groceries or a bundle of something tucked under an arm of an already weary body met my gaze as I stepped out of the car and stood on a small side street. The trees on either side had locked their branches together and formed an archway above me, draping me with a dense quilt of reds and burgundy. A cool and soft breeze gently rustled the “quilt,” dropping leaves that were weary and ready to let go of their life-supporting branches, lifting them into the air as though to float on the wind. Starved for these colors, I absorbed the beauty that reigned in the dying leaves chasing each other like children playing ‘catch me if you can’. Their colors and vibrancy brought with them the first scent of the season, that fresh smell of snapped twig and musky leaves.
A sudden gust of cold wind blew with a ferocity that ripped the shawl off my shoulders, and in a matter of a few seconds, the entire street and city grounds were covered by a blanket of leaves on loan by nature herself.
The trees had lost their leaves. Only a couple here and there still trembled on their branches by the frailty of a stem. Soon, every trunk would become a bare and naked stretch of gracefully intertwined branches. I thought to myself, how easy it is for the trees. It looks so simple to let go, let fall the rich colors of the season, without grief. Would it not be wonderful if we too could do just that? Let go and enter deep into our roots for renewal and slumber. If we could learn from nature and imitate the trees; learn to lose in order to recover; learn to accept that all that comes is also all that leaves. Learn to give ourselves away like a tree that sows seeds every spring and never counts the loss. Learn to share our beauty, shade and comfort like a tree in the summer that never withholds its fruits because it knows that to give is to gain. Learn to mature beautifully into the gold and scarlet of our autumn years and lose some of who we are, like a tree that begins to lose some of its leaves. The wind whispered, “It is not loss, it is adding to future life.” And as if the wind played havoc with my thoughts it stirred the leaves and gathered them in cyclonic form, and with an eerie whisper deposited them into neat piles at the foot of the trees from where they’d ended their breathing life cycle. They would soon decompose to nourish the roots.
The sudden sounds of laughter from children interrupted my thoughts. Children of all ages came out of nowhere, it seemed, to jump into the piles of leaves playing ‘catch me if you can’ with shouts of gleeful merriment. The crunch of leaves beneath their little feet, the joyful sounds of their laughter spoke through the wind with the revelation that children, still in the bud stages of life’s cycle were “harvesting” their youthful pleasures from the winter years of trees. There is something to be said about the steadfastness of trees and the cycle of life. We are mortal, but we remain, like the tree, strongly rooted and spilling out our treasures to the wind.
I looked across the valley and saw that autumn had arrived with its plentitude of colors preparing for winter loss. The wind whispered again, “It is not loss, it is adding to future life.”
To the memory of my mother who gave herself away like a tree, spilling out her treasures to the wind.

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7 Responses to Autumn Leaves

  1. Sylva Minassian says:

    A masterpiece harmonious ,sounds and colors reached our soul a hymn to keep your Dear mothers memory evergreen .Inspirational !Thank you for sharing .Autumn do bring back memories,mixed feelings of finding and losing love.
    In my humble opinion this piece could join other literary masterpieces in literature .


    • Sylva dear, yes October and autumn do carry with them a nostalgia that we relate to loss; but I’ve come to the conclusion that the nostalgia or “garod” stems from an intensity of love multiplied.


  2. Colette says:

    With your words you have painted a masterpiece Silva. I read it more than once, and it was as though I was standing next to you and I could see so clearly what you were seeing and feeling. The mood and the colors… Thank you for a wonderful interpretation. What an homage to your mom!


  3. Maria says:

    Beautifully written and I am wordless but for relating the etymology of “nostalgia” to trees: (nostalagia from germ “nost” = nest and “algia” = pain).


  4. Anahid Gallents says:

    Dear Silva,
    I am impressed with your incredible writing ability.
    Your Blog “Autumn Leaves” transferred me to my home country and remind me the park next to our house.
    You described the colorful autumn path so well that it magically transferred me to my happy childhood.
    I was walking again on the path under the huge trees and the trails that was covered with the blanket of autumn leaves. The beautiful sceneries that autumn painted in that park were still in my memory and you brought it all back. You even described the sounds that I use to hear when I was walking on that path.
    I envy your ability of describing your experiences and transferring them to your readers. You have the power of the writers that are able to give the readers all that different feelings and magical moments.
    As you can tell I enjoy the nature sceneries, and that is why I love hiking, camping and outing in the nature. The only tool that I have is the camera for capturing the moment, but as you know it doesn’t do the Justus.
    My writing is limited but I wished to comment to your wonderful blogs better.
    Keep up the good work and I think you should write a book.


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