Saturday, October 18, 2008

What if we were all perfectly coloured and shaped?

Everything seems clearer in autumn. These past days, I've been travelling to Moncton daily, as my husband has been in the hospital. In spite of the purpose for them, I've been thankful for these glorious drives. Otherwise, I would have been at home, in front of my computer, working and missing it all. I'm also thankful I live in Atlantic Canada, a place of seasons.

Driving down Route 114 has been like following a corridor of light and I'm struck by how fall allows us to see each specimen more clearly in all its glory.

While everyone oohs and ahhs over the deep crimson maples that provide depth and shadow to this palette, I must say I prefer the luminescence of the orange maples - they, alone, seem to glow with some strange inner light.

In summer, these trees blend together into a tapestry of sage and emerald, chartreuse and pine, myrtle and olive. It is difficult to distinguish individuals in the crowd, and we tend to see the forest as an entity unto itself.

But in fall, a tree begins to separate from its neighbour and stand tall in its unique shape and splendor - almost as if each has found the courage to shine with its own inner beauty. They bring all that surrounds them to life - even the unchanging fir or pine.

The sky's a deeper blue, the water crystal clear, the buildings more striking. A small white clapboard church against a backdrop of maples exudes peace and harmony.

I notice the burnished oaks with their sturdy trunks, airy limbs stretched outward, leaves clattering like waves on a cobble beach.

Leggy birch groves glow like splashes of waving sunlight, their leaves a gentle applause.

Then, of course, there are the spicy maples of all colours; some tall and cone-shaped, others wide and round; still others pruned to odd shapes to accommodate the sway of hydro lines.

I remember thinking once about how we rummage through garden centres, searching for the perfect, upright, healthy specimen to take home, and yet each tree, each shrub, each plant, has actually grown perfectly in accordance with its environment. Some have grown tall and straight, unencumbered by stress or strife, while others have endured trauma, lack of nutrients, sunlight, water, yet still somehow survived. Perhaps we should consider that they are really the strongest - the most likely to thrive.

I guess I feel a sense of belonging in this season. Now, in the autumn of my life, I have finally found the courage to stand alone, to be find contentment in how I've been uniquely pruned and shaped and nurtured...and to shine with my own individual colour and style.