Cynthia Staples : Light on a Leaf
Words & Images
Light on a Leaf
By Cynthia Staples
When I bought my current camera over a year ago, one of the first pictures I took was of a pile of fresh fallen leaves after a rain storm. They were massed at the edge of a playground. Though submerged mostly beneath stagnant water, they retained their autumn colors red, orange, yellow and just a bit of green. They glistened in the afternoon sunlight. The picture came out blurry but I remember the leaves as being so beautiful. Of late, I have been reminded of that beauty to be found in a leaf.
Outside my bedroom is an oak tree. Its russet leaves become pumpkin in the afternoon light. Buffeted by a gentle wind, their shadows shimmy on the cream colored walls near my desk. Their black velvet dance is youthful in contrast to their actual appearance, so worn and fading away. Winter approaches. I am tempted to step outside to stand beneath the oak, to hear what sounds the last leaves make, what songs they sing as their season comes to an end. I am enchanted by leaves and will be sorry to see them go.
Yesterday I biked along a leaf-strewn route. In faded browns and ruddy reds, leaves covered the ground, obscuring the path. The ride began to feel more a chore than a treat but every now and then I'd pedal around a bend and there before me would be magic. Yellow leaves aflame. In tree branches and on the ground and swirling on top of small streams. The sun, low in the sky, painted the underside of leaves with light like an artist dabs cadmium white on canvas. To highlight and to illuminate. To surprise.
Tomorrow or the next day or the next, the branches on the trees along the bikeway and on the tree outside my window will be completely bare. All the leaves will have fallen.
When autumn truly ends and winter begins, I imagine sitting at this same desk. The oak tree will be in silhouette against the walls. Unadorned by leaves, its shadow will be mostly static, stolid and steadfast, braced against the inevitable winter winds and weight of snow. It will stand in wait for spring and for its livery of new leaves to emerge. With camera in hand, or not, I will be waiting as well. •
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© 2008 Cynthia Staples. All rights reserved.
Cynthia Staples is a highly creative writer and photographer living in the Boston area. Her words and images capture moments and memories and weave together inspiring stories for her readers. More »