“I second that. It’s chilly, especially at night.”
“I can feel the coming of winter in my veins.”
“Oh, please don’t say the ‘W’ word. We’ve hardly had any summer and now you’re talking winter already?”
“It’s not as if we have a choice, Mabel. You know that. All good things come to an end.”
“But, Marjorie, we’ve hardly had a beginning. It wasn’t so long ago that we uncurled and unfurled and popped from bud to light green leaf, ready to take on the world.”
“Oh yes, the spring of life was so sweet, wasn’t it? Supple and strong, enjoying the sun on our faces. Where did that time go?”
Marjorie and Mabel lay limp and silent for a few moments, reflecting on how life had been just a few brief months ago.
“You know, Mabel, in spite of the fact that fall signals the inevitable winter, I think I like this season the best of all.”
“Well, just look at us. In the spring, we were bright and fresh. That light green was a nice, fashionable colour. But hey, just look at us now. If nothing else we’re going to go out in a blaze of glory.”
“That’s true. You are an impressive shade of orangey-red. Quite spiffy.”
Marjorie rustled in laughter.
“So are you. I don’t think I’ve ever seen you look handsomer.”
“Why, thank you.”
“And did you notice that we now combine so well with Sally and Prudence?”
Mabel swung around look below her at the field of sunflowers dotted with a few hardy pumpkins.
“Why, you’re right. I hadn’t thought of that. Of course, this IS my first experience at this so I suppose I can be forgiven for not making the connection.”
Marjorie rustled again. Hardening of the veins made it an effort, but she couldn’t hold herself back.
“Of course, my dear Mabel. The only reason I know is that Mistress Mum told me. She comes back every year and knows these things. You’ll notice she is also colour-coordinated.”
Mabel grew pensive. “Do you suppose that all this was planned?”
“The seasons of our lives, the colours, the combinations?”
Now it was Marjorie’s turn to stop and think. The moments passed as she considered the question.
“Surely it isn’t all an accident,” prompted Mabel.
“That would be too much of a coincidence, I’d say,” responded Marjorie. “Every one of us in the clan came to life as one, grew green together, deepened and darkened to rich emerald, and then burst into glorious reds, yellows and oranges all at the same time. No, someone much bigger than we are planned that.”
“And then there are the colours,” said Mabel.
Now that Mabel has made the colour connection, she’ll hang onto it like a squirrel with a nut.
“Then there are the squirrels,” remarked Marjorie, connecting one thought to another.
“Yes. I’m sure you’ve observed them running up and down that oak tree over there hauling nuts like someone would be issuing ration books tomorrow. They seem to know that winter is coming. That’s no accident.”
“Still, instinct just doesn’t happen.”
“Sometimes it seems so purposeless,” protested Mabel. “We come, we stay a while, and we go. The squirrels stay. Some flowers return, others don’t. Even Thomas will still be here next year, but we won’t.”
“Well, Tommy’s a sap, and that’s what trunks like him do,” said Marjorie. “We do other things.”
“Like, for example?” prompted Mabel.
“We rustle. It’s music in the air.” Thinking that reason might be a reach, Marjorie swiftly added: “We shelter the birds and squirrels.”
“And the boys,” added Mabel, remembering the kids who had climbed into the boughs of the tree over the summer.
“That’s right. Then there is the shade we provide, and the seeds we drop for next season.”
“Oh, yes, the seeds. That’s an important one.” Mabel’s orange glow brightened.
“I think it’s time, my dear.”
The silence seemed appropriate for the solemnity of the occasion.
“But don’t despair,” Marjorie consoled her friend, “Mistress Mum told me that we will rest peacefully down there while we become one with earth again. Come spring, we will enrich someone else’s passage into spring.”
“Then the cycle of life will be completed?”
“Good. Then I’m ready.”
The two maple leaves rustled their joy one more time. Then, just as they had shared life, they swirled to the ground together to begin the next phase of their journey.
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