Thinking on the Run

The photographs above were all taken on my runs because autumn is my favorite season. I have a chance to think on my runs, meditate,  or listen to music, a podcast, or audiobook, depending on my mood. Lately, I’ve been listening to the wind in the trees and enjoying the falling leaves. Below are some of my thoughts while I run. Sometimes I think in poetry or I think of prose to write or snapshot to paint, and when I’m not running, I’m a mom to a very thoughtful daughter. What do you think about?

Hope Is The Thing With Leaves

Will you always bring me a Japanese maple leaf in autumn when the afternoon light slants towards evening in the red afternoon? You select a leaf a day; plucked from the tree near the school on our block; the ones scattered on the sidewalk are not good enough—they’ve been walked on and smashed under commuters’ feet. No, the leaf has to be fresh like a flower that dies once it’s cut yet blooms for a week with proper care. Red is your favorite color in fall, not the pale yellow that lets the light through and seems to glisten in the sun’s rays. No, you are like me and prefer the maple, blood-clotted red, over the sunshine of the gingko leaves fanning the wind in a farewell for the tardy geese making their way south for winter.

The maple is upright and strong in the wind, but its leaves are like feathers against the wet, black boughs, part of the floating world swirling above our heads. Will you always bring me a leaf a day? Each leaf you carry between your fingers is placed high on the counter or shelf, away from the cat’s claws. Each night, the fragile edges curl on themselves like a dead spider’s legs, and I reluctantly throw it away before you wake in the early morning, thinking I should have saved all the dead leaves in between two sheets of wax paper, ironed and sealed, so I can remember. But, I can’t. I want to collect all of the autumn leaves each year so we can admire their shape and color and redness. Where would I keep them? On the counters and shelves or stacked around the house in neat square piles like read newspapers?

Each day, you bring me a new leaf as red as the one before. I set it aside and admire its fragile veins, the jagged lines, the five points like a star, but you’ve already gone off to start your homework and never see me admire the leaf that you so carefully selected—a piece of hope. Hope that might curl into a ball by the break of each day but appears in glorious red the next afternoon in spite of what came before. I cherish each leaf you bring at the end of your school day, even if I ask you to place it on the counter when my hands are wet with the soap and sponge from the dishes. And in the spring, after the winter that blew all the leaves off the highest branches, new leaves, bright and green, will grow; the boughs will reach even farther to the clouds and into the bright afternoon sun. Hope will flourish once again, and we’ll have leaves to collect.

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