Autumn Leaves

What’s going on?  A yellow leaf floats gently by, guided by a light breeze.  It can’t be … fall already?  Summer has been so short.  A gust of air, and I watch another leaf fall.  This one lands on my head.  Lifting it down, I marvel at its fall dress.  A bit of green is still showing, but the rest is streaked with orange, yellow, and brown.  It flaunts its beauty unapologetically, as if to say “Look at me, see what wonders change can bring.”

Sinking down on my bench, I look up at the tree.  It is ablaze with leaves in full colour, waiting for their appointed time to fall.  With shock I realize that autumn isn’t on its way, it is fully here.  The seasons have changed without my noticing.  

“Why is it always this way?” I muse.  “Change always comes, yet I fail to see it coming. Only when it flies in my face or lands on my head, do I wake up and recognize a different reality.”

The seasons of my life have slipped by me.  I didn’t think about it when I was just living.  There was no notice given, no fanfare, and very little conscious thought of life’s changing path or of personal changes.  Decades marched by.  One day I stopped to comb my hair.  I looked in the mirror and gasped.  Who was this woman I was seeing?  I didn’t recognize her.  Without my being aware of it, my seasons had been lived … spring, summer, fall all gone … and I found myself deep in winter.  The falling of my life’s “autumn leaves” failed to alert me that major changes were slowly being made, externally and internally.

The older I get, the faster the pile of remaining days dwindles.  Now I look back and remember, more often than I look ahead and plan.  Rejoicing and grieving travel hand in hand.  So much left to do and enjoy, and yet so many empty seats at the table.  The intense pleasure experienced daily from little things, the curiosity about what tomorrow will bring, keeps life appealing and beckons me on.

In 1937 Don Blanding, a poet, artist, and lover of life wrote “The Rest of the Road.”  The last verse of that poem reads:

“How long?  How far?  How hard?  How fine?
How heavy or light the load?
If it’s half as good as the half I’ve known
Here’s Hail! … to the rest of the road.”

This poem was written approximately eighty years ago, and has been a favourite of mine for seventy.  Even in my winter, it still gives voice to my belief that life should be joyous, and that it can be so for me until my pile of days runs out.  I creak my way into bed, pull my comfy quilt up to my chin, chuckle and whisper, “Here’s Hail! … to the rest of the road.”


Filed under This & That

16 Responses to Autumn Leaves

  1. Jim Taylor

    Marjorie, you have an uncanny ability to put into words the feelings I have — or perhaps will have. Thank you so much.

    Jim Taylor

    • Marjorie

      Jim – Good to hear from you, and thanks for your comment. Any time that something I write triggers a response of “I know what she is feeling,” it is success for me. After all we do not tread this path alone.

  2. Alison Uhrbach

    That was just lovely. I so admire people who can quote poetry, or scripture, or any appropriate saying! You are a wise woman, and I’m so glad you’ve been a part of my life.

    • Marjorie

      There are two sides to every coin, Alison. You have been part of my family since you were born. I’m very pleased that you liked this piece.

  3. Jim Robertson

    And I used to wonder where Isabel acquired her writing talents.

    You have such a way with words !!

    • Marjorie

      Jim – Thank you for your encouraging words – at least I have a lifetime of memories on which to draw.

  4. Eleanor Jackson

    What a delightful way to start the day! I’m so happy to be included among the recipients, who gain a little insight into your wisdom

    • Marjorie

      Nice to hear from you, Eleanor. Wisdom I don’t know, opinions yes! We can continue the discussion in church.

  5. Leone

    Hi Marjorie,
    As always there is so much food for thought in what you write and you express it so beautifully.
    Here in Edmonton we have enjoyed a lovely, warm autumn but….most of the leaves have fallen and now I go to St. Albert in the dark! How I treasure the long summer days but look forward to Skylar’s joy in making snow angels.

    Wishing you many more wonderful seasons,

    • Marjorie

      So far no predicting how many more seasons are in the wings – but however many make it out before my pile of days are used up – I expect to enjoy. Take care, Leone.

  6. When we are young we think time is Forever, but when we are old (and wiser), we understand there’s only Now which makes is easier to decide what really matters. Love, kindness, forgiveness, tolerance, encouragement, enthusiasm, cheerfulness, praise…. there isn’t time for their opposites.

    Thanks again, Marjorie, for reminding me.

    Who was it who said, “I had a wonderful life, I just wish I had known it sooner.”

    • Marjorie

      Greetings Barbara – I love that saying! If you find out where it originated let me know. If you cannot tie it down, I’ll use it and attribute it to you!

  7. Judith

    “So much left to do and enjoy, and yet so many empty seats at the table.” That sentence says so much.