Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Catch and Release Leaves

While sitting at my neighborhood coffee shop one recent fine fall day, I felt my usual impulse to look through the leaves that had collected on the sidewalk to see if there were any I wanted to take home. Then I remembered the leaves still waiting between the pages of the phone book I had pressed them in last fall and a few falls before that. So instead of picking up more leaves to add to that neglected collection, I selected a few of the larger ones, wrote a short poem on them, and put them back down. The thought that somebody might find them and read them was a pleasant one, and the chance that they might simply get lost amid the myriad unscribed leaves didn't bother me. I used a felt-tip marker so as not to tear the fragile leaves and copied a couple of the haiku from Cranes Arise, by Gerald Vizenor--from the "autumn" section, of course. Each haiku has a heading of a place name, which I assume indicates where he wrote it, or at least where the inspiration occured. This one is from St. Paul, Minnesota:

city squirrels
tease the calico house cat
at the window

I think a person could also draw a picture on a leaf, or write a short quote, a prayer or a wish, or simply some words to provoke thought. To me, it's a satisfying way to respond to the urge to pick up pretty leaves without actually taking them home. And if I am reluctant to completely let them go, I can always take a picture.

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