Fall Colors

Ruston Way Tacoma October 25 2013

When I walked the cement pathway along Ruston Way here one year ago, my eyes traveled to the carpet of sodden leaves at my feet. The heavy rain of the past few days had stopped and between the clusters of flattened leaves the sidewalk had dried to tan.

Occasionally, I glanced at the sky: blue, finally, with misty suggestions of clouds scudding by in the upper atmosphere.

I moved at a slower pace, as if I was a worm, with a worm’s stature and a worm’s eye view, pulled toward the earth. The black tips of my boots plodded forward, cautiously advancing. In my pocket, my phone felt heavy. I was conscious of its weight, knowing that it could at any moment summon me for the latest crisis. I was sick of my phone.

As I neared the hotel, a patch of crimson and orange leaves had begun to dry, enough for a breeze to shift a few a matter of inches. Everywhere else, the leaves left shadows when they moved: solid charcoal shapes. But here, in this one patch, the leaves transferred their pigment and the architecture of their veins onto the pavement below.

Crouching, I began to turn leaves over, investigating which left wet shadows and which left inky stains. I felt like grief and fear and anger had been pressed on to me leaving ridges and bruises so that anyone walking by could see them.

What a difference a year makes. Though fog blocked the sun and the leaves were moist, I didn’t see any that had bled on to the sidewalk. They were just leaves, wet leaves on a Tacoma pathway, ubiquitous. It was the canopy of colors that drew my attention today, burning red as the chlorophyll waned and warm colors, secreted within, emerged.

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