What’s Growing at the Harriet Irving Botanical Gardens – Falling Leaves
By Melanie Priesnitz
“I asked the leaf if it was scared because it was autumn and the other leaves were falling. The leaf told me, no. During the whole spring and summer I was very alive. I worked hard and helped nourish the tree, and much of me is in the tree.” – Thich Nhat Hanh
There are many lessons to be learned from the forest. It is a remarkable ecosystem where plants, animals, and micro-organisms work together in accord. The forest is filled with symbiotic relationships where all organisms, even parasitic ones, work together to an extent while always respecting the environment that sustains them. We as humans can learn much from how forests subsist.
In autumn, a powerful lesson can be learned from deciduous trees about letting go. In the Acadian Forest, leaves fall each year as the days grow darker and the temperatures drop. Trees shed their leaves to ensure their own survival and future growth. With not enough days of light and warmth to effectively photosynthesize, they shed their sunshine catchers to ensure that sugar production shuts down and they don’t get caught in a deep freeze. We could all look at our lives this time of year and work to shed what does not serve our growth.
Trees have no fear of letting go and starting anew each year. Leaves humbly sacrifice themselves for the greater good. They provide nourishment to the tree and then slowly leave in peace, trusting that the tree will stand strongly on its own. In leaving a relationship or watching a child grow and move away, we’d do well to take a cue from the grace in which leaves depart from trees. Trusting that they have done their piece and the rest is up to the tree!
Take advantage of the late autumn sun and make time to sit in the forest or at the Botanical Gardens and simply watch the leaves fall. If you sit quietly you’ll see the scurrying of critters preparing their stores for winter, and you may also create enough space in your head to see what work you need to do as the seasons change. The Gardens are open daily and free to the public. We have many comfortable benches and grassy lawns for quiet contemplation.
Harriet Irving Botanical Gardens