Stories & Lessons

The Day the Color Turned Off

I thought I had one more day or one more week of beautiful vibrant fall colors. On Saturday, I was driving to the gym and I caught a glimpse of three trees with gorgeous red leaves, sun streaming through them, one right behind the other. And I thought—I have got to get out to the lake tomorrow so that I can have one more day of gorgeous fall weather. And the weather gods cooperated…Sunday was a simply perfect fall day. Just the right temperature. Just the right amount of sun. Just the right…everything. So I jumped in my car, excited about walking the 5.3 miles around Spot Pond. But as I drove to the skating ring parking lot where I park, I noticed, “Uh, oh…the leaves are gone.” I saw more and more bare trees, which did not bode well for my walk.

Sure enough, as I started walking on the path around the lake, I noticed that the trees had lost their vibrancy. The leaves that were left in the trees were lackluster…muted yellows and browns. They reminded me of the last stragglers at a party, the hangers-on. They reminded me of the old man at the club—he should have gone home hours earlier, but there he was, still trying to pick up girls much too young for him. Oh well, I obviously was not going to be enthralled by the view…so I just started to think.

Well, lots of different lessons and insights started coming to me. The first is that without the brilliant reds and oranges to distract me, I was able to focus on other things not on the surface. I was able to dig a little and think about things that were important to me but for which I did not often have time. I also noticed that I could see the lake – without the flashy leaves obscuring it, I was able to look at and see the contour and the motion of the water. I grew to have more and more respect for those leaves that were still around. They were the survivors—the ones who had endured and lived to tell the tale. Because they were not brilliant, they served as a wonderful backdrop and I could put other things in the foreground. The flashy red and orange leaves—they demanded the foreground and the background—they wanted it all. The longer I walked, the more I appreciated the leaves that were still there. They reminded me that for everything there is a season and that each season should make us appreciate the others ones even more.

I was grateful that I had gotten outdoors so much this fall. Last fall, I had plans to go out and walk…then I looked up and all the leaves were gone. I had missed one of my favorite parts about being in New England…the glorious fall colors. This year, I did so much better—I took walks that allowed me to see different fall landscapes. I treasured myself enough to make time to enjoy the majesty of autumn in New England. So as I was walking along the lake, I gave thanks that this year, I had enjoyed the brilliant reds and bright yellows and intoxicating oranges. I looked forward to seeing them again next year. And in the meantime, I appreciated the leaves that were left, the harbingers of winter, the ones helping me to say goodbye to the color that turned off…for now.

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