Circle of life
By Theresa Blume
As a girl growing up on the farm, I did not appreciate the changing colors of the fall leaves as much as I do now that I live in the city. I spent a lot of time in the woods, but I associated fall with squirrel and deer hunting more than colorful leaves on the trees.
In the fall as the nights got colder, we put our ponies and milking cows inside the barn. Cool, clear autumn evenings were the best time to join dad and my brothers in the barn. I helped feed calves, brushed the ponies, carried shovels of sawdust in for bedding, and played with the kittens.
The nights were chilly and dark, but the barn was welcoming and warm from animals’ bodies as they ate their supper of grain. Streams of milk hitting metal pails joined with cats meowing for a taste and my brothers getting the hay bales out of the loft told me all was right in my world.
After we were done with milking and locked up the barn for the night we each took an armful of firewood from the woodpile, bringing it in to the delicious smells of our own supper that mom had prepared. I had a firsthand view of the circle of life as we ate the meat we raised ourselves and the vegetables we planted from a tiny seed.
Times have changed a lot in my 50-plus years at an amazing speed. Living in the city, it is easy to forget that our fast food suppers still rely on nature’s hand. But by reflecting on nature’s wisdom gained from my upbringing, I have learned a whole bucketful about life.
One of the biggest lessons I have learned is that change is a constant, but nature itself has not really changed. Every change in nature is complete with purpose and in perfect order. For instance, the beautiful fall colors are not just there for us to admire. In fact, that is probably the least important reason this change happens.
I did some research on leaves changing color because the leaves seemed brighter and more colorful this year. It turns out the wet weather and the easier summer we had are making for brilliant coloring this fall.
A single leaf’s season may be short, but it is complete with purpose in a full circle of life. By absorbing sunlight and moisture, it supplies its tree from spring to fall and continues to supply nutrients even as it begins to die on the limb.
During its final hurrah of color, the leaf’s veins gradually close while a layer of cells form at the base of the leaf. These cells eventually seal off the tissues of the leaf, making the separation complete so it can be shed to ensure the tree’s survival. The leaf’s purpose continues when it hits the ground and becomes nourishment for the forest floor. The leafy compost holds in and absorbs moisture, encouraging life for the next season.
Like the leaf that turns a beautiful color for a season, we too will become more beautiful when we are serving a greater purpose. Hopefully we will leave a legacy that will benefit future generations in some way. In nature the circle of life is evident everywhere, and I cannot think of a better example of being selfless while fulfilling our purpose than the simple leaf.