Updated: Dec 1, 2020
It truly is magical. The changing colours of the leaves in autumn is a beautiful happening in our city of Ottawa that I've come to appreciate more and more each year. This is the glorious season when vibrant colours are awakened by the magic of autumn, sending beautiful energy to the human spirit even though these colour changes signal the coming of winter dormancy for most of nature in the months ahead.
I took a moment by myself, one chilly Sunday morning, to capture these magical views and to freeze them for memories. By the time I reached my neighbourhood trail, it was just before 8am, and it was beautifully quiet. The silence, apart from the rustling of the leaves in the gentle breeze, was calming and complementing to this moment that I needed for myself to just B-R-E-A-T-H-E. As I took my steps through this trail to savor every beautiful minute of solitude, I found that my peace was easily disrupted by the commotion of thoughts and chaos running through my mind; thoughts of everything that has happened and continues to happen during this extremely challenging year. My brain does that a lot. It thinks too much and often does not know when to stop thinking. Even though I was surrounded by autumn's enchanting colours and that refreshing crisp air, I couldn't help myself from becoming distracted by thoughts of worry. It has been a month since the kids started attending school physically, and so far, things have been flowing along quite well as we managed to get back into routine and continue to do all that we need to do to keep safe, such as keeping our distance, being on guard for signs of illness and wearing our masks when we're supposed to. Autumn, which traditionally signaled the coming of a cooler, magical season, is now a time of dread and uncertainty as new COVID-19 cases continue to rise, making our city a hot spot with the worst transmission rate in the province. Everyday, through conversations with family and friends and news reports, I hear and read about the cries of concern and worry. Our city has moved into Code Red, the highest level on the pandemic scale used by public health officials to determine how critical COVID-19 affects the community and how risky it can become towards overburdening our local health-care system. Bars, restaurants, gyms and theatres are now closed down for several weeks.
As I took more steps, making my way a little deeper down the trail, still thinking and worrying a little, I found myself surrounded by an overhead view of golden beauty. There is no consciousness in these leaves, yet they are alive, using sunlight to make food in the summer and now pausing their food-making process to reveal their vibrant pigments as the daylight hours are shortened by the autumn season. In a few more weeks, these leaves will begin to fall off and the cycle of life will continue into the winter, spring and summer months.
It seems almost unfair that our world surrounding human life is continuously plagued by a turmoil of never-ending stresses and events that have brought about so much pain and despair, while nature continues to carry on blissfully, painting pretty colours on leaves for us to admire, and staying focused on doing all that it needs to do to prepare for the next thing on its agenda. Nature is never distracted by hardship. Its duties may, from time to time, become disrupted by extraordinary weather changes or human destruction, but no matter what obstructs its path, it just keeps going - doing its thing, taking it one task at a time, one season at a time. Nature doesn't stop, unless it dies. As I continued my walk along this beautiful neighbourhood trail, that notion hit me. Just as nature continues to stay on its course, to complete its duties for that season, we, as humans, must somehow follow suit and do our part as a species of a complicated universe, to take it a step at a time and do all that we need to do, to make it through these tough times. Looking too far and too deep into an unknown future can be such an intimidating view from where I stand. But getting through the day, one task at a time, can somehow help to move forwards.
As I continued along the trail, I decided to pause and B-R-E-A-T-H-E. Gosh, that cool air was so crisp and fresh as it swept into my lungs. I took another breath and slowly the anxious feeling of constriction in my chest started to release its grip. I took one more breath and continued my walk. Within minutes, I was back in that solemn moment with just myself, the enchanting world of nature around me, the gentle sounds of leaves crunching under my feet and the slow disappearance of conflicting thoughts in my head. Influenced by the leaves that have fallen to signal the beginning of rest for these deciduous beauties, my mind was persuaded to fall into a peaceful aura and allow just my five senses to come forwards to soak in all the beauties of autumn. This is the fantastic power of autumn. In the middle of a frustrating and arduous pandemic, the autumn season of a place where leaves can change, can provide a little magic to bring about a little positivity to a very difficult year. In a Fairy Tale, I may have been in need of a potion to distract my mind from the despair of such a challenging time. But in this real world, I am humbled to be given this gift to witness Nature's magic, allowing me to get through the day, one colourful scene at a time. And while this beautiful season is here to stay until all the leaves fall, and winter takes over, I think I'll turn around and create a little magic of my own to say: thank you Nature for not giving up on us this year. The Trick or Treating event that most children look forward to each haunting season may be different or may not happen at all this year. But for a lot of us who have been looking forward to witnessing the beautiful colour changes of the autumn trees since the summer, our wish was still granted. Nature persevered this year by bringing us our autumn season. So I'll try my best to do the same; to not give up hope and to keep going. Hang in there Friends. It's been hard, but just keep doing what you've been doing. Hold on to the beautiful things happening around you and hold on to that magic and somehow life will find a way to get you through it.