Requiem for a yellow leaf

My way of life
Is fall’n into the sere, the yellow leaf;

Tomorrow, and tomorrow, and tomorrow,
Creeps in this petty pace from day to day,
To the last syllable of recorded time;
And all our yesterdays have lighted fools
The way to dusty death.

It was a highly dreaded day of bitterly anticipated cold, of polar vortices and chunks of ice on the water. The Hudson had frozen over like I had never seen it before next to New York City probably because they’d been breaking the ice with machines further upstream.

It was a day of huge tree-cutting contraptions lodged on the roadsides, deathly stillness amidst falling  snow on the roads which are usually populated by office goers and coffee mongers and food vendors on a weekday.

It was a day of eerie scenes when shrubs were covered with snow looking like rows of gigantic frosted cupcakes at a birthday party to which no one had come but the stony, metallic statues of important people whose beards had suddenly turned white with the powdered snow.

It was a day when there had been momentous obstacles to many momentous events in the city. Meetings had been cancelled, classes dismissed, transportation routes changed and hundreds of flights cancelled to domestic and international destinations.

It was a day when one was forced to think of goings-on slightly larger than life– of shifting Arctic air, of the the earth’s poles, the troposphere and the stratosphere amidst the chilling ruthlessness of nature.

It was on such a day that I went out on the road to see what it was like.

Having grown up and lived in the tropics and sub-tropics most of my life, I wanted to experience what cold and snow were like at these temperatures. I was granted my wish.

The snow was being lashed around by the icy winds. It slapped like a thousand needlepoints on my exposed face. Visibility was low and cars were crawling slowly crouched in fear along the road. I wasn’t sure if these city cars could or would stop for me on the slippery ice.
Very few people had come out on the road and hence the snow was still pristine white.

Amidst all these global atmosphereic shifts and large human crises this small leaf had fallen by the wayside on the sidewalk. It was soon going to be covered by the massive snow that was quickly coming down now. Its fall wasn’t going to block a road or stop a flight or summon the tree cutters or affect a municipal decision. It was just going to be quietly covered in the snow soon.

Being more used to the gushing force of tropical rains which lift such yellow leaves for a few glorious moments even in death before they are carried to the gutter, I stopped a moment for this fallen leaf whose quiet disappearance was now inevitable under this silent, feathery snow .

So I took out my phone and decided to chronicle its death before it was going to be lost forever.

Here it is, the leaf that is now gone quietly amidst the big construction machines and flashing emergency lights and the many trampling boots that emerged soon after the snow stopped.

Leaf in the snow

23 thoughts on “Requiem for a yellow leaf”

  1. Some people live and die unnoticed and quietly just like this leaf. But in reality no life is ever that unimportant. For who knows what little creature may have lived on that leaf. Maybe the leaf parted its ways with the tree the day its inhabitant let out its last breath.


  2. Since we are experiencing the driest winter in decades (some say 500 years) in California, your writing made me dream of a real winter. And the small leaf captured in the icy hands of winter is a perfect symbol of the season. Thank you for a quiet and lovely post.


  3. LOvely winter scene for those of us in midsummer… love your descriptions of the snow and the shapes, and the silence… and then the Leaf! delicious post… mindfulness in the snow…


  4. Great post…I just commented to a friend of mine yesterday that despite a series of storms here, including wind and rain and freezing rain and gale-force winds that whipped snow every which way but loose, there are still a few leaves left on the trees in my yard…against all odds they remain–an old pine tree in my back yard fell victim to the weather and now lays stretched across my lawn like a fallen soldier, but a few leaves remain on my maple and oak trees. I’m sure there is a lesson to be learned from them and their stubbornness and resilience, but I haven’t figured it out yet. Can you shed light on it for me? What do they signify, what do they try to tell me?


    1. I would, except that I don’t have a yard and can’t see trees from where I sit. But your comment has the germs of a very good post. Looking forward to seeing it as soon as you’ve figured it out.

      I knew my fallen leaf was imp in some way but it took me a few days to clearly see what I must have felt then.


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