Twirling, tumbling, turning cartwheels in the air, leaves rode on the breeze as we walked down the allée of trees at the park that early October day.
Being a couple of passionate photographers, my partner and I, we always tote our cameras with us when we walk. That morning we tried to capture falling leaves in mid-air, tried to freeze the moment before they landed, to memorialize and honor their journey. We shot photo after photo after photo.... to no avail. The wind was simply too strong, our ability to focus our cameras too slow, and they touched the ground too quickly, landing in pools of golden sunshine. We laughed with each failed effort. And since then, each time we see leaves raining downward, he says to me in English with that charming French accent, "Look... photo, photo..."
The progression of autumn is different here in France. The leaves lose their chlorophyll gradually, lingering on the trees much longer than where I lived in the U.S., the soft Parisian light making them glow like paper lanterns at sunset. Each day, I walk along the banks of the Seine, across the street from our apartment, observing the season's progress. The crabapple tree in the flower bed is laden with fruit harmoniously colored to match its leaves, a tapestry of persimmon, olive and chartreuse. The chestnut trees are nearly bare, curled, crunchy brown leaves carpeting the promenade beneath them. The linden trees that form the allée have revealed a thick blanket of moss coating their sturdy limbs, now visible since most of their yellowed leaves are gone. The maple trees, perhaps the stars of autumn everywhere, are starting to blaze with color, their brilliant leaves dropping reluctantly, unwilling to let go and step out of the limelight. I kick the piles of leaves as I walk, having always loved the sound they make beneath my feet. The air smells of autumn-- of leaves and desiccation and the coming rains on the wind.
When people talk of falling in love, they often talk of falling "hard" for someone or something. In my case, I fell softly. It was a quick tumble, a head-over-heels kind of fall, a turning-somersaults-in-mid-air kind of fall, but a gentle one. Like the swirling leaves we were trying to photograph at the park that day, I was free-falling, an inaudible and inevitable drift toward luminosity, compelled by the forces of gravity and the chemistry that exists between us. After cascading downward, silently, softly, I landed in the grass. And when I opened my eyes, there was my photographer, smiling, with his camera in hand.
Until next time...