The last leaves, and me

by +CrystalThieringer    @cdthieringer


img_3987My favourite place to read looks out on the street in our neighbourhood. Just beyond the picture window, the tree is filled with chickadees and the occasional cardinal pair. This is home.

The upholstery on the recliner was carefully chosen to complement the colours in the room, but we hadn’t factored in the cats. The first week Lynxy discovered a thread with her teeth, and I never noticed. We came back from a weekend away, to discover that she had become bored or rebellious in our absence. What’s a cat to do? Let’s just say that we contacted the upholsterer and the week-old reading chair soon sported heavy duty armrest covers. They haven’t necessarily protected the front of the chair, but the damage from her relentless pulling on threads has been minimized. She left her mark on the furniture.

She left her mark on our hearts, too. Lynxy died this summer, and I think of her every time I brush my hand over those covers or carefully move the blanket she used to crawl beneath. Memories are that paradox of full-empty, warmly and wistfully recreated moments. Sydney is creating her own, and as long as the same blanket is over my legs so she doesn’t need to put up with my bony knees, she is content to sit with me. Sometimes, that means my book or computer rests on her hindquarters. I’m delighted she stays because when Lynxy was alive, she simply wouldn’t. I wonder if she is remembering too.

On this cool November morning, I watch as a russet-coloured leaf dangles precariously, challenging the breeze in a tug-of-war. Fall is a melancholy time, the yellow leaves from a different tree dance in the background. My husband could tell me what kind of trees they are. He knows the names. I know who shares their branches. We understand different things and yet we both know this: there will come a day soon when nearly every leaf will be on the ground, quite likely covered with snow. img_4072

It is the order of things. Leaves do not stay on  trees. People cannot live forever, and neither can cats. Relationships change as people grow–into their true selves, apart, even up.  To everything there is a season, I hear my Gram say from some long-ago time. Endings make room for beginnings. Bodies wear out, inattention causes crashes, moments pass, people die. It happens in spite of us, and yet, it is what reminds us to live.

The dry leaves rustle beneath my feet. I’ve loved that sound since I was a small girl walking on prairie roads. There is a cool crispness to the air I breathe, a reminder that I am entering a season of dormancy, of rest, of warming by the fire. How grateful I am to have one.

img_4074The wind picks up. As much as I love the beauty of fall, the wind is its undoing. It’s mine too, some days.

Down comes another leaf.

I’ve been struggling with letting go of something, and as I watch the leaf pirouette a path I question the wisdom of holding on so willfully. The wind swirls around the last leaf, strangling it’s lifeblood. Even if it holds on, it cannot stay vibrant in these conditions.

But if it just lets go? The very same leaf will decompose, break down and nourish something new.

Growth happens here. It may be hidden beneath the snow where it can’t be seen, in ways I cannot know in the season to come. It matters not. God is at work. There is a time. There is a season.

Let go.

18 thoughts on “The last leaves, and me

  1. Crystal, I love fall as much as you do, and feel wistful just reading this. You must miss Lynxy so. I am sorry she is gone, but am glad you did not go too long before opening your heart to your new kitty.

    1. I think she needed to open her heart to us. She was always fond of my husband, but she pretty much avoided me. Now, she seems to like my company too. I’m glad–but I think we are going to stay a one cat household for the time being. Sydney seems to prefer that. I do miss Lynxy. Not a day goes by when I don’t miss her being on my desk, just as I long to hear Charlie’s purr. All my cats have been special to me (in no small part because we have no kids, I’m sure). It is Sydney’s turn, no doubt. She cracks me up sometimes.

      1. I’m so glad you have your fur babies. They fill us up with love and laughter.

  2. So many lines in this made me sigh, and say, “yes – that’s it.” The imagery of the leaf playing tug of war with the wind, hanging on against all hope, then becoming fodder for something else as it gives in to destiny – beautiful. Thank you for sharing this today.

    1. It occurred to me that decomposition is necessary, sometimes, for composition. Destruction is necessary for construction. Thank you for seeing that!

  3. Gram held a special place in my heart growing up, but an even greater influence as I recall the memories and wisdom she shared as an adult. While your post makes me mourn for Lynxy, I am so glad you are able to share your life with Sydney. Your gram would be so proud.

  4. A great piece. Just yesterday one of the parents of a piano student told me how much happier the kids are now that they’ve adopted a cat. Her statement (and this piece) made me think about getting one. I liked the spirituality in this piece, especially the focus on acceptance — “to everything there is a season.” It always feels so good to let go, though it’s not always easy.

  5. I was just speaking to my dad about our sweet cat who passed away two years ago, and without thinking I said, “Do you remember when she did [insert ridiculous thing cats should never actually survive, yet she did]? It’s a wonder she’s still alive… wait.” I felt awful for a moment, and then so pleased, because she was one of the best cats and gave us so many stories. I love your imagery and your point. And I have such a hard time letting go, even of unhealthy things sometimes. Thank you for the reminder that it’s so much better to let go than to cling.

    1. I love that story of your cat! I love the memory and the love and the fullness. I’ve been having a hard time of letting go of unhealthy things. Sometimes it’s a let-go-again process, but I think gifts like the one you describe with your ridiculous cat are a way God soothes us when we think life is too hard, and will continue to be so. It won’t. Thank you for this.

  6. I so appreciated this post. Your photographs were wonderful and let us see what you see. And yet, my favorite part was your selection of words. Words that were gentle enough to depict the way Lynxy was. I could picture her pulling the threads from your couch. Our cat Puddie used to eat the strings off the carpet runners we had. The funniest thing she did was swipe pencils off tables. We didn’t suspect her till we moved the loveseat and there they were all lined up almost as if they were smiling.

    I love your writing. It takes us by the hand and gently leads us where you were.

    1. Quite possibly, she was one of the wisest women I’ll ever have the honour of knowing.

  7. This was so lovely. If I started quoting my favorite parts the whole blog would reappear on my comment.
    The rhythm and sensation you wove was exquisite. It was like I was sitting in the same room, staring at the same leaves.
    I felt as of there were a lot of deep postings beneath the words that left me curious, but unwilling to pry, so instead I felt the need to turn my curiosity inward.
    I guess what I’m trying to say is I applaud your writing and I am grateful you shared.

    1. Thank you, Jessica. Indeed there are a lot of deep musings beneath my words.

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