Autumnal Reflections

October is at its end, and yet I haven't written anything all month.  The autumnal sighs of leaves from trees well mirror the experiences I've had since returning to the Czech Republic.  I returned the last week of August, when the sun was ablaze and the trees laughed carelessly with their bright, confident greens.  The same excitement flooded through me as the new school year began.  Students returned, and we greeted each other with smiles tinted with unfamiliarity after the distance of summer.  The same beautiful sun that energized us also left me spent, as did the work brought with the new school year.

The days continued on, and, after being shut inside my office or classrooms, I was surprised to encounter the transformation happening outside amidst the boughs.   With the fresh--sometimes surprising--colours of leaves came insights into students and bright moments in the midst of the ebb and flow of the school day.  Soon autumn began to come in earnest, and I thrilled at the colours so boldly displayed all around.  Indoors I also saw the variation in my students as I began to get to know not just classes, but the individuals within.

But life is more than work.

I've gloried in the constant change of leaves around me.  I've been overwhelmed by the thought that thousands and thousands of leaves are falling in my city, and I wonder how many people have noticed their beauty, and how many leaves have fallen without a single person to consider the uniqueness of the individual leaf.  I have noticed some, but only some.  I notice trees more than I have in the past, noting when their seeds have fallen or the subtle transformation of colour that transpires from spring to autumn.

And the noticing has been a choice.

Some days I have been blind to the beauty in my midst--taking it for granted or perhaps never turning my eyes for the slightest glance.  There were flushes of colour that I disregarded, and when I regretted, they had already turned to brown and retreated to the space below my feet.

This has been my autumn: beauty both acknowledged and under-appreciated.  Moments of focus and fulfillment and moments of regret.  Autumn has not yet finished.  Some leaves cling to the trees, waiting for their cue before taking hold of the wind and swirling down to join the patchwork of colours below.  And what is left are silhouettes, bold lines, calico bark, and the quilts that always result of that discarded.


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