I grew up in the arms of trees, buoyed by the sturdy limbs of maple and unwavered by the sticky bark of spruce. For a young one, their perches gave a perspective loftier than even the adults who otherwise towered above.
The birds called to me and I called back; watching them dart out and up to forage for little ones left behind. A hop and a halt - both of us moving, watching, waiting. Light tickled skin and feather alike, dappling through the treetops as the sun winked across the sky.
“Dinner time!” a mother calls from outside the boughs. And all of us returned to our roosts.
Since leaving the nest, I've shifted to hanging out with trees from my hammock - spending time in the green sanctuaries of cities, putting my feet up after a long hike, or even sleeping between a different set each night on a multi-month bike tour out west.
It's mid-autumn in Manitoba right now and the trees have donned their seasonal palette of shifting burnt colours that will never go out of fashion. The wind has taken on a cool tone and looses a new swarm of leaves on each gust; none wanting to win the race to the ground. The afternoon sun touches my bare skin and still has a hint of heat to it; a faint reminder of summer's warm embrace.
Laying back, I gaze up at an ombré of green to yellow against a pastel blue sky. A gentle breeze rustles the canopy of leaves; twisting their slackened hold to branch and life. One by one, they fall in the haphazard way that only a leaf can fall - darting, and drifting, and floating. I watch with keen eyes in an attempt to witness the moment when one lets go. Yet despite years of attempts, I've never actually seen it happen. Always it is their plunging in my periphery that catches the eye - moments after the elusive inevitability.
There is something powerful about tuning into the seasons; an opportunity to touch into a rhythm wider than the frantic cadence of modern life. A moment spans into a morning that becomes a day. A day piles into another to form a week, a month, a year. The years add up to a lifetime - and even then it is but a blip on the wider timeline, overlapping cycles at each level adding up to a living mandala of interbeing.
And yet, we forget. Tuning in, we are reminded: fleeting and whole are two perspectives of the same thing.
Maybe I will witness a leaf letting go next year. Or maybe not. That's not the point - either way, I’ll pay attention.