And some days, like today, I get in my pickup truck and drive. The leaves that have fallen from the trees in the driveway have collected in the truck bed, and as I go down the road, I watch in the rearview mirror as they swirl and rise and float out behind me. It’s as though I’m some kind of fairy, but instead of fairy dust, I sprinkle autumn wherever I go. It makes me smile.
(Taken from my journal, autumn, 2016)
It was dark when I dropped Santana off at work. The days are so much shorter now, and working graveyard shifts, sometimes it feels like I don’t get to see the sun. But not today! It was my first day off in almost three weeks, and I was not going to waste it.
I took June Springs Road to the Little-White Forestry Service Road, trying to find my way to Ruth Station, in the Myra-Bellevue Provincial Park. The sun was just cresting the mountain, kissing the valley below.
Sunlight cut a swath through the trees, turning the grass from silver to gold.
The air was sweet with the smell of cedar.
Snowberries and autumn flowers lined the road.
The rocks were tending their gardens.
But the trees. Oh, the trees.
And so it was, that the gods of the forest summoned the kings of the cone-bearing trees to their Great Hall for a meeting.
“There are too many of you for the land to support. One of you must die. You will have three days to decide. If you are unable to decide, then all of you will die, and we will begin anew.”
The gods left the hall, and the trees began to argue. Each one stated reasons they deserved to live, and some of them even offered suggestions as to who they thought should be the one to die. Their voices rose and fell as day turned to night, and night to day. At the end of three days, the gods returned.
“Have you reached a decision?”
There was silence in the hall.
“You have left us with no choice….”
“Wait,” came a voice from the back of the hall. The trees parted, and Larch stepped forward.
“I will do it.” Larch said. “I will die so that my brothers might live.”
The gods smiled. They had been testing the trees, and they were pleased by the selfless act of Larch.
One of the gods placed his hand on the trunk of Larch.
“For your willingness to sacrifice for others, Larch, you will not die. Instead, once each year, your needles will drop, and in the spring you will grow soft new needles. To ensure your service will not be forgotten, before they drop, your needles will turn to gold, and all will be reminded what you were willing to give up for your family. All the trees that come after you will not have needles, but leaves, and in the autumn their leaves will also fall, in your honor.”
From that day forward, Larch lived in peace among his brothers. He did not grow as tall. He did not grow as wide. But every autumn, when Larch turned to gold, the other trees nodded and remembered.
Do you see what I see? Gold dust on a gravel road.