Journey to Swamp Maple                                                                                  Sun, 26th October, 2014

Somehow the fall has come and I haven't had time to notice. It's a tragedy considering this is by far my favorite season. It seems only a few short weeks ago the trees were still in full summer green.

Seeing so many of the maples in Webster at their peak color and intensity, I set out yesterday to walk a little farther than usual. The object of my quest was to lay eyes on my favorite swamp maple that grows on Gray Avenue. Every year I look forward to standing in awe before this spreading, statuesque beauty.

But I was too late. The picture here is from last fall, when it was just slightly past its peak. But this time nearly all the branches were bare. As I stood amid the yellow-orange leaves littering the ground, I sensed the annoyance of my largest dog who had been forced to walk an extra half mile to complete this pointless pilgrimage.

The disappointed trudge home was filled with regret for the fact that I had squandered the opportunity to see “my” tree in its full glory. And soon that led to thoughts of other missed opportunities, such as the fact that I feel I've missed so much of my children's growing up. Cliché yes, but nonetheless true that they grow up too fast—you blink and you've missed it. My son is nearly ready for college, and soon the opportunity to spend time with him will have slipped away, like yellow-orange leaves.

One has to pay attention—over and over again—because trees, children and life always change. Being present isn't something to be accomplished, an item to be checked off the list. It's a constant process, a way of being, to take in all the beauty that surrounds us every day. And, whenever necessary, to walk an extra mile to take it in.

Go outside now and look around. Then do it again tomorrow.