Fall Survivor

Autumn is in full swing, marching steadily on towards winter. The heating is going on more and more – partly because I am out of the house more, and Carole is a heating fiend whereas I will turn blue and lose all feeling in my extremities before I will line the pockets of the gas company fat cats.

And throughout all this, there’s a tree out the back with just one single, solitary leaf on it. It’s just clinging on, refusing to let go of the life it had before the weather turned and all the chlorophyll started to degrade and send the leaf through the traditional autumnal palette.

It’s changed colour. It’s a yellowy brown. But it’s still there. Clinging to the end of a branch like its life depends on it. Which, I suppose, it does. All its friends lie scattered around the garden, now nothing more than leaf litter of the future and a current play thing for a certain black kitten who we are going to steal likes to make our garden its home during the working day.

I’m not sure, now I’m aware of this leaf, that I can stand to see if fall. I like looking out of the kitchen window and it being the only remnant of the spring and summer months still on show out there. I like the resilience. It’s like the tree version of the poster of the cat on a washing line that says “hang in there!” It’s the sort of thing that, if trees and bushes had access to YouTube and the like, someone would make a video about it. You know, something like “The leaves turned brown, but what happened next will leave you stunned.”

I know, though, that it is not long for this world. It has, it would appear, quite a large degree of rotational freedom. That, I’m sad to say, is not normal for a leaf. It’s clearly hanging on by the last vestiges of whatever it is that holds a leaf to a branch. Tree glue. Or whatever. The leaf, now browned, is unable to produce energy through photosynthesis and the tree is shutting down for winter. It’s getting rid of everything it no longer needs for that process. But this one leaf is just holding on, refusing to let go.

It’s an inspirational leaf. It’s the sort of leaf poems should be written about. Portraits painted. Songs sung. It’s that kind of leaf. It’s amazing.

I’m assuming it’s still there. It’s dark now and I can’t see. I’d hate to thing I’d written all this – really bigging up the leaf – and it’s given up the ghost while the sun’s gone down.

When it falls off, that’s it. I’m calling winter. Screw the official changing of the seasons. That leaf is clearly the point by which that kind of change should be measured. And when winter is upon us, maybe we’ll have the heating on just a little bit when I’m around instead of not at all. It is winter – or will be – after all.

But maybe not. Maybe, rather than running to the warmth of a radiator, we should learn from the leaf and just cling on as long as we can without resorting to the pull of inevitability and the lining of a gas person’s pocket.

I’ll suggest it to Carole tomorrow.

If the leaf is still on the tree, I suspect she’ll run outside, pull it from the branch and stamp on it until it is nothing but dust.

And then put the heating on because she’s cold.