The temperatures fell and the wind grew harsh. Trees shivered off their leaves, ready for their wintry slumber. Half-waking memories of thick, white blankets settling onto their boughs with a comforting weight returned. With them came dreams of doing things a rooted tree cannot: of traveling, hugging friends, and having dinner parties where the tables overflowed with bowls of liquid sunshine and pools of warmish water lapped at their feet.
Legend has it, if someone can solve the autumn puzzle and return each leaf to its proper place upon the tree, she or he will be granted their dearest wish. I’m not sure how many, if any, have succeeded, but more than once I’ve been tempted to try.
The leaf looked around, bewildered. One moment he was wafting on the breeze at the end of his favorite branch, the next he tumbled down into some sort of wet impressionist painting. Sure, he had a few friends with him, but still. He didn’t imagine the painter would be glad to see a bunch of renegade leaves stuck in his painting after it dried. Arms and legs would come in handy at a time like this.
Summer left them ragged, tattered, and tired. A flush crept into their cheeks, their eyelids growing bothersome and heavy. “It isn’t anything personal,” they say, their mumbles descending into snores, “a quick winter’s nap and I’ll be good as new.”
The rest of us smile and prepare for our leafless, snowy futures with mugs of hot drinks, stacks of worthy books, woolly mittens, and fuzzy slippers, knowing as we do a winter’s nap is anything but quick.
She fell from her branch and faded to gold from the forgotten bits of sunshine she’d eaten once upon a tree. Insects came and chewed at her flesh, styling her into a delicate filigree for the finest of fairies to wear to their moonlit balls and midnight masquerades. The day came when she was forgotten in the grass, and a little girl found her and pressed her in a book, little suspecting the wonders the tattered old leaf had seen.
The caterpillar yawned, thinking he was finished now. He was feeling tired, downtrodden, and in need of a change. He moved onto his favourite life and wrapped it around himself, cosy and safe. When his bed was made he fell asleep, and dreamt himself into a butterfly.
The young leaves were so busy growing they failed to notice they’d forgotten to dress in green. It wasn’t the worst thing in the world, but it reminded the others of autumn and cast a solemn mood as they counted the days remaining in the summer and worried over a chill in the air.
The leaves looked on in horror as one of their own skittered to the gravel below. “Avenge me,” was all it said.
At long last the prophecy was coming true. All along the limbs of the wooden beasts they unfurled; the Eaters of Sunlight, Givers of Shade, and Echoes of Tranquility. Soon the forests would shiver with great green clouds of them holding back the sky and the long awaited summer would once again rule the land.
She stopped short when she noticed the fragile first leaves of the season. They bobbed with joy on the breeze that wafted past, and she smiled the first smile the leaves had ever seen. They were dazzled, and both lives were all the richer for it.