Leafy Philosophy


While waiting for my Garlic Jim’s pizza delivery this past weekend, I decided I had better start raking the leaves in my driveway for fear that the driver would not be able to navigate my pizza to me safely.  As I was raking the crispy leaves that have been falling from my Maple trees at a rapid rate for the last few days, I started pondering the miracle of life and renewal of life.  (Because that is what you do when you rake leaves- ponder life. Am I right? Or am I right??) First I recalled when these trees were tiny little Jr. Maples about 10 years earlier. The thought of actually having to rake leaves from the driveway or yard was not even imaginable back then. Then I thought about how many times I watered or fertilized these little Maple trees. Well I can count the times with my fingers- nope, I can count them on my fist because the answer is a big ZERO! Just how on earth could these little scraggly 3 foot tall trees have turned into 30 foot tall beauties that produce ginormous piles of leaves in the fall? With no help from anyone?

I’m not sure of the exact scientific answer but I have a feeling it has to do with the will to survive. These little Maple trees figured out a way to stretch their roots down far enough to find water, and to raise their tiny leaves towards the sun to find nourishment. Now that they are big and healthy adult Maples, every fall at this time they suddenly become naked to the winter by losing the majestic dinner plate size leaves that they have worn for the last 6 months.

There is just so  much energy produced every spring to flower, evolve into a baby leaf, grow into an adult leaf, turn yellow, turn orange, turn brown and then fall off. Why would anything go through so much trouble every single year?

It seems like so much work.

Maybe so, but what is the other alternative? Maple trees don’t have the massive social safety net that most humans do, so they need to go through this tedious, yet amazing transformation every year to survive. When Maples lose their leaves in the winter they are able to hunker down and conserve resources so that they can survive harsh conditions. Year in and year out with no complaining. Well…. actually there were some Maples that complained in the 1970s- and it didn’t work out well for them. (If you don’t know what I am referring to, look up the song The Trees by the rock band Rush- and ponder away.)

As I wistfully raked and raked, I turned my attention to the consistency of these trees. They don’t take a year off.  And what if they did?  Well, we humans would freak out, that’s what. Part of the reason that I love living in the Pacific Northwest is the consistent change of the seasons. In the summer I look forward to the earth cooling and in the spring I look forward to the earth warming. If this were to change it would certainly throw things off. The sun rises and the sun sets, the moon is full once a month and every year at this time the World Series is played and the Seattle Mariners are not in it. With the exception of the Mariners part, our world might be pretty chaotic if these things didn’t happen.  Humans need order.  For me its hard to define why, but those leaves falling of fthe trees every year make me feel safe, content and happy.

As I stood in my driveway leaning on a rake channeling Socrates, the Garlic Jim’s  driver showed up with my favorite fall pizza,The Sicilian, I checked out my leaf pile.WP_20151018_014 Was my pile big enough to enjoy a few slices right now?  For sure.

Waiting the 20 minutes for my steaming Sicilian pizza may not be comparable to the long winter that the Maple trees must endure before they can start to come back into life again, but I can pretend it does! Savoring every bite, I thought about how lucky we humans are to have so many choices, but also how lucky we are that nature does its job for us time after time. This week if you don’t have the opportunity to rake some leaves, at least take a really good look at the beauty of the transition of the season.  Do a little pondering- it will work you up an appetite!

Ciao for now!




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