I’ve been going down this road for a year now, when shops are shut, traffic is almost nonexistent, and there’s a smattering of morning walkers. When I reach a particular spot, I pay attention to my rear view mirror. Because at this point, the road starts to tell a story. On some days, everything looks cool and asleep, with the sun so flat – videogame light, the love of my life used to call it – that you doubt it’s there. On other days, it was a hall of mirrors and gilt, filtering, reflecting, diffusing, suffusing, making shadows and beams. Like so.
On some days, like today, it’s a quiet, flat space. But every day is a story that fits perfectly in the frame of my rear view mirror. It is my slice of beauty, just before I get into work. It is my personal, private, quiet dose of the miracle of light and renewal. Today, after that really showy, brazen display of sound and light, I saw that all leaves along my route were washed clean.
When I left home, hurrying my kids, I fleetingly wondered what I would see in the mirror today as I drove down that street. When I got to it half an hour later, I was underwhelmed. It wasn’t a good day for drama, I guess. I was nearing the end of the street and was about to focus on the junction ahead when it hit me.This street and its trees weren’t quiet at all. Every tree, that, two weeks ago had shed leaves like a woman mourning, had now started to sprout new leaves. Look at the many greens there. The older leaves, a sturdy dark green: in the prime of their lives, sorted, sage, solid — things I think I’ll never be. The leaves that sprouted perhaps last week are a more vibrant green: playful, giggling, waiting to burst at the seams. That lighter green is truly the colour of the pulse of my life. Everything is that green — always roiling, always remembering, always alive and then I saw the green on the middling branches, trees that were younger, friendlier, less sure. That green, my friend, was the green of the heart of your hearts. the one the damaged exterior doesn’t get to. The one that holds all the innocence you carry with you unknowingly. The innocence that you only wear when a lover who is devoted to you, and you to him, looks at you. An innocence of being.
I pull up by the kerb, get out of my car to see the youngest leaves, to see if they have anything to tell me because I have forgotten that everything around me talks. I laugh at the poems that sing of the breezes and trees talking because I am so city and so smart. I am afraid to approach the tender new leaves but I do. And there, right there, a colour I do not know. Chartreuse mixed with… brown?
A colour with no name in my mind. Exactly like the redolent lifetime of promise when something is born. No name, no idea of the details. This tight new leaf, this beacon of promise. I took a picture for you but it hurts that I cannot show you its glistening lifeforce. That I cannot show you that when layer upon layer of day and human interaction creates a scab over your core, there is hope. That every day when you suffer, when you laugh, when you give up or go on, you are this leaf, you are this renewal. I feel inadequate that I cannot share the ache I felt when I looked at that tiny, defenseless, perfectly content new leaf. Or that, for me, it stood for hope, because these days, it is all I have to go by.
Perhaps it is all we ever had to go by.