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The Grace of Leaves

This afternoon, I swept the front porch. Air too soft for December swirled around my ankles. “The leaves keep falling!” called the across-the-street neighbor who I can’t figure out when he chooses to speak, or not. “Yes,” I responded. “We don’t have a tree on our property, but we’ve got leaves.”

Too late, I realized it sounded like a complaint, a disloyalty to the leaves I was sweeping up. The narrow yellow leaves came from the arms of a neighboring live oak. The city had cut the oak down the middle to make way for electrical wires. The resulting tree carries a Vee shape, or, if you look differently, a heart.

Mixed in with the yellow were orangish cypress needles. The cypress bellies right up to the sidewalk–not a swamp in sight. The neighbor who owns the tree apologized once when he saw me out sweeping up the needles. I told him I love the tree. It smells thick after rain and whispers in the breeze.

Not seen in the pile I’m creating are the delicate yellow blossoms of the Golden Raintree that hangs over the courtyard out back. Or its papery seed pods the color of dried roses that fall after the yellow blossoms. Or its final offering of flat brown leaves. It’s cyclical, that tree. Right, all trees are, but not so dramatically. The first time the tree dropped its seed pods, we were out of town. When we returned, I seriously wondered who had baptized our house with rose petals while we were gone.

We are fully dependent on our neighbors for trees. They see the leaves and apologize. I see the grace of leaves, and give thanks.

A smattering of rose-colored pods on our welcome mat, an example of the grace of leaves.
The grace of leaves

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