Fall Leaves & Mourning

Photo taken from the back patio window

There is something about fall with its bold colors, each leaf distinct, the explosion of red, orange, yellow pigments in artistic play, a cacophony of hues.

I am especially grateful for the turning of leaves this November,2018. Days before the midterm, I am fraught with anticipation and anxiety. Will there be a falling?

The cleansing sweep of leaves represents change, the falling away of what has been in preparation for what is to become. I am grateful for the wisdom of Mother Nature’s seasons.

To thrive, trees must rest. To rest, trees must give up their leaves, strip down, be prepared for the weight  of cold and the blanket of snow which will bed, protect and ultimately melt moisture into the roots and provide nourishment for spring’s resurgence and growth.

During my fall childhood, as I walked the mile route to and from school, I scanned the sidewalk for “special” leaves— the perfectly pointed fiery red maples, the curved yellow oaks, the russet chestnuts. Upon arriving home, I slid each leaf in between the pages of Mom’s discarded Woman’s Day magazines. At season’s end, the magazines bulging with stems peeking out, I tucked them away in my room under a heavy book.

Often, as it happens in childhood, I moved on to my next project, forgetting the beauty left behind until spring or even the start of the next fall, when I would begin again. All these years later, still drawn to the search for “special leaves” such as the floating oak leaf caught in the spider’s web framed in the patio glass door, shown in the picture above.

A week has passed since the awful human carnage of faithful Jews, several near my own age, at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh’s Squirrel Hill. Raised in an Orthodox Jewish community, daughter of a first generation Yankee father and Lithuanian immigrant mother, I watched television images of congregants in mourning and men in black hoisting caskets of their beloved ones. I read about and listened to  stories of the deceased—men and women in the throes of their lives including a married couple wed in 1954 at the Tree of Life Synagogue, the same year as Marv and I were wed.

As my heart wept for the fallen,

I gazed upward

to the bold red/orange/yellow

leaves in change,

leaves in color, leaves falling.


Each precious one

soon to transform

into paper thinness

likes bones to dust,

eleven spirits in flight.

May the beauty of fallen leaves bring comfort to those who mourn.

14 thoughts on “Fall Leaves & Mourning

  1. Colleen

    Faye, such beautiful, colorful, words after a dark week here in Pittsburgh. Pittsburgh is a small city…everyone knows someone who was affected by the tragedy. My husband and I know the sister of the two brothers who lost their lives. The beauty of the fallen leaves will always have a deeper meaning for me. Thank you.

    1. fayewriter Post author

      Colleen, I’ve thought of you often during this sad time. Thank you for being in touch and sharing your difficult story. My condolences to your friend and to you and your husband. I look forward to spending time together at Solstice.

  2. Rosemary Booth

    I like how the writer here describes being “caught”: every year by the compelling beauty of wild-colored fall leaves, and only a week ago by the deep sorrow of mourning for Tree of Life Synagogue victims. I also like how she weaves mysterious as well as mundane aspects of her own experience to illustrate these points.

    1. fayewriter Post author

      Rosemary, Thank you for your observations and especially for highlighting the “wild” aspect of the piece.Eventually, the “quiet” of winter does follow and we can only hope.

  3. Kat Fitzpatrick

    Beautiful and moving, Faye. Thank you helping my ability to clearly witness the teagedy.

  4. Patricia

    Faye…once again a lovely reminder of the beauty that’s right outside my door. I have begun a morning ritual of a walking meditation as part of my morning walk, and amazed at what i’ve “seen” now that i am more mindful. Also a reminder of the ways in which nature can “take us away” from the sad and disturbing events of our time. Your poem was a beautiful, moving tribute to those we lost in the tragedy in Pittsburgh.
    Thank you, thank you for your efforts to always bring me back to gratitude!

    1. fayewriter Post author

      The image of your walking meditation among the vibrancy of this autumn makes me smile. Thank you, as always, for your affirmation of my effort.!

  5. Dineke

    Thank you Faye, I posted this on my FB timeline – the beauty of fallen leaves bring comfort – especially this month, almost a year after the passing of a dear friend DC

    1. fayewriter Post author

      Dineke, I’m grateful my post brought you comfort at this anniversary time of your dear friend’s passing. Take good care.

  6. Dineke

    Thank you Faye, the beauty of fallen leaves bring comfort, especially this month, a year after the passing of a dear friend DC.

    1. fayewriter Post author

      Dineke, I just realized my original reply to you did not go through. I’m grateful my post on fallen leaves gave you comfort at the time of the anniversary of your friend’s passing. Take good care.

Comments are closed.