Thursday, September 13, 2012

The Happy Leaf

Outside the window, there is a tree. I don't know what kind of tree it is. I wish I did, but I would have to call a professional botanist because it looks like, well, a tree. A nice leafy one. Like a lot of nice leafy trees I see. It doesn't have pine needles or weird bark or a visible root system. It's just a tree. Doing its tree thing. I respect that.

The leaves look a little like maple leaves, but smaller and missing two points. They are green. Just green. Not olive green or apple green. Just green. It is the kind of tree I picture when someone says the word tree. Stolid, but wavy in the breeze, unobtrusive.

I sit beside the window while I write, so I know this tree very well. In the spring, the songbirds go insane in the hidden spaces of this tree, and I write to a symphony of chirps and tweeps. The birds are long gone now. And soon the tree will lose its leaves, but I like it that way, too.

It gets really hot by the window sometimes, but the tree and I don't trip. I sweat. The tree's leaves shrivel up near the top where the sun assaults them. Down at couch level, they stay nice and leafy, though. I wouldn't want to eat one or anything. I would kind of like to rub one against my face. But I live on the second floor and it's probably best that we just hang out...nothing physical.

When the sun hits the leaves, the veins stand out, but you really have to look. It is a delicate tree. It is like a first date, the tree. It is full of nervous energy, twitching in the wind, hoping its leaves are the right color and shape.

I'm not quite delusional enough to think that the tree knows I exist. But I believe it anyway. We're brothers, the tree and me. We forgive each other grammatical mistakes and allergens. But the tree is really the beginning of the story. The story is about a happy leaf.

All the leaves on the tree look the same (except for the extremely scorchy ones on top). All except for one. At my eye level, right near the end of the branch, six inches from the glass of the window, there is an especially happy leaf. It is malformed and it has a bright orange dot on it. It seems to dance in the breeze a bit more vigorously. It is quite obvious that it doesn't lament its difference. It is merely happy to be doing its leafy thing.

There are days when my world becomes an opaque blackness, and I want everything to burn to the ground. I want to die. I want everyone I know dead. I want it all to be over. I want the buildings to slowly rot and fade back into pastoral splendor. I want all the TVs in the world to explode. These days are infrequent...they didn't use to be. Sometimes, on the black days, I sit with my laptop and just fucking hate. And sometimes I am smart enough to stop hating and look at the happy leaf. And then I smile a bit, and the smile erodes a bit of the pain. The leaf does a cheeky floop in the wind. It is not a magic leaf, it does not cure anything, but it helps.

I haven't named the tree and I refuse to name the leaf. I'm sure it has its own name and it doesn't need my help. It needs songbirds and sun. Lately it has been needing a little rain. But it gets by. And maybe, just maybe, the tree knows that I am here. I don't know. Seems stupid, but so many things do. You can't convince me it doesn't. You wouldn't be able to convince me that it does either.

It's just a droopy, floppy tree. It's not the kind of tree that would stop you if you were in a hurry. But since we share office space, I look at it a lot. My infant daughter will stare at the waving branches and smile. I know she doesn't see the happy leaf and it doesn't see her. I think. What I'm getting at is that it doesn't matter if it does or doesn't. Not everything needs to be explained. So, I'll take my leave now. I need to work on a novel. But first I need to watch the happy leaf shimmy.


  1. I'm with you, JD, I can relate to that one goofy, spotted malformed leaf. It's the coolest leaf on the tree, by far. The leaf defines the tree, as the word defines the man. Keep writing.

  2. Leaf on, amigo. And thanks for stopping by. :)

  3. No. Not everything has to be explained. Some things just happen. Some things are just there. Some times we're just there. The search for meaning continues.

    This pondering was like a breeze through those leaves...then a bit of a storm...and then the rain stopped, the sun came out again, and the sidewalk dried.

    Thanks Dan.

  4. It's nice to have a friend just be there for you, isn't it?


Please leave comments. Good, bad or ugly. Especially ugly.