When I was in 1st grade the teacher took us outside one day to gather leaves that had changed color and fallen from the trees. We were told to find the “best” leaves, the “nicest” ones. I had never felt strongly for leaves before but suddenly a competition broke out among us for who could find the “best” one. It was a nice time.
“Mine is the best because it’s biggest!”
“Mine is better because it’s a darker red!”
“Mine’s bigger than yours so MINE’S the biggest!”
“You can’t count the stem!”
“Mine has more bumpy things so mine’s the best!”
“Mine is a prettier orange than everyone else’s so mine’s the best!”
“Mine tastes the best!”
“Ewwwww! Don’t lick them! ACK! Don’t EAT THEM!!!”
It didn’t really occur to us that there wasn’t a definitive way to determine the quality of fall leaves. We all thought ours was the best for one reason or another.
When we came inside we preserved our “best” ones between pieces of wax paper. Then we added string and hung them from the ceiling. For a while, and even after the snow fell outside, our fall leaves hung above our heads in that classroom. They were pretty nice decoration. And the debates about whose was best slowly died away as we realized they are all good, and the effect of having a whole bunch of them was nicer than if we only had one “best” one.
Today I was walking down the sidewalk thinking about all the fallen leaves. “Somebody should rake these up and throw them away!” I thought. “Of course I don’t want to do it, that unpleasant chore of raking leaves. But SOMEBODY certainly should get rid of these ugly dead things. They are constant reminders of the encroaching winter! Be gone stupid dead leaves!”
And then I remembered how special those leaves had been when I was young. How I appreciated their beauty and enjoyed them outside and in. How I had spent time looking at leaf after leaf deciding which one I liked best. How as a child I could appreciate how pretty they were. I remembered how much joy those fallen leaves had brought me.
I think that if I could look at fallen leaves the same way that I did as a child I’d probably be a happier person.