Tuesday, October 27, 2015

What the Leaves Want You to Know

Whatever you may be doing right now, stop it immediately. 

Grab the sweater on the back of your chair or the hoodie from the weird pile of stuff near the door and head outside and turn slowly until you have covered a full 360. Now, remind yourself that life is still beautiful. The autumn leaves are here this year to remind you of that.

I’ve had the pleasure of living in my little town here in Connecticut for 21 years and have never seen a display of gorgeous color like this---the reds are flaming, the coppers virtually aglow and the yellows, oranges and golds are varied and burnished. Peer through them to that special shade of sky I call “October Periwinkle” or even a brooding grey wash of clouds and you have something to remind you of the indefinable majesty of life. 

It’s something bigger and wider and kinder than the media’s crass agenda, the stupidity promoted on TV or the fact that Hannah Montana has become Miley Cyrus in all her ridiculous and sad vulgarity.

It is said that in a dry year, the trees perform some natural magic that helps preserve the moisture in their roots and that a fortunate by-product of this process is brighter than normal foliage. We’ve had a significant rain deficit so this all makes sense.

I prefer to interpret what’s out there—a display that’s caused people to, literally, pop from their cars and clamber up on rocks to snap photos they will email to friends who live in parts of the world where leaves simply do not do this – as a reminder that, no matter what, good things happen, too. 

I’m not suggesting we ignore reality. How can we? We are plugged in all the time. In restaurants, nail salons and at gas pumps the unsettling ubiquity of cable news fills our hearts with utter dread. Personally, it wears me down, creating a perpetual sense of personal unease.  

TV screens used to be in bars so sports fans didn’t have to miss a play but now they’re everywhere. Just the other day, while getting my hair cut, every head in the salon was turned to the TV as an awful scene right here in Connecticut was unfolding before our eyes. Thankfully, it was a false alarm but it scared every single one of us in there. Yet, despite the fears these ever-present screens create, we are also becoming somewhat anesthetized to the horror. None of that is good.

We, the comparatively fortunate few of Fairfield County here in southern New England -- though we occupy a world of madness and are certainly not untouched by the daily pain of the world -- can monitor it on our high def televisions and fancy phones behind artfully placed hay bales, mums and pumpkins that adorn our front steps every fall.  We are certainly blessed to live where we do yet we all know too well what life is about.

But forget it for a moment and run and look into each other’s eyes and swoon together over the graceful tufted grasses, crimson sugar maples, golden sycamores and rusty sedums that are right outside our doors.

Stop for just a second as you emerge from your office, garage door or before you board your little tractor for a final mow and let this natural antidote lift your hearts and make you feel that life is wondrous. In a world where colors like this can appear on trees, briefly forget the fresh daily hell that the default page on your browser is serving you and breathe. You may need a Zyrtec afterward but it will have been worth it.

No, Susan Says has not become an optimist. Don’t worry, I am still the paranoid, hypersensitive and often gloomy wreck who won’t get on an airplane without having eaten a Xanax sandwich washed down with a slug of tequila. But, this year, the autumn leaves reminded me of the day when I wasn’t quite this crazy, worried or nutso. 

Go take a look before they’re gone. And smile, because life can be beautiful, too.

All photos in this post were taken here in town by either me or Seth "Ansel Adams" Szold.