Wednesday, October 15, 2014

A Leaf in the Forest

Then the eyes of those who see will no longer be closed,
and the ears of those who hear will listen.
Isaiah 32: 3
If a tree falls in the forest does it make a sound?
We didn’t know where we were—but we weren’t lost.
My husband and I love New England in the fall.  We’re “leaf peepers” (that’s an actual term.) Our agenda?  To have none.  No schedule, no reservations, and no goal other than seeing what each day had in store.

Our pattern is this:  we get up early, eat breakfast, and head out on country roads, taking the odd turn here and there on a whim, depending on our trusty GPS to get us back to civilization.  Our aim?  To be surprised and discover a perfect vista of golds, rusts, and reds that makes us gasp in awe and delight.  When we hit the season right, our “Oooh!” quotient runs high and the view around every bend seems to one-up the last.

The day of the incident (and I call it an “incident” merely to entice you to keep reading) we were driving in eastern New Hampshire and found a highway that bordered that state, just inside Maine (Highway 113 if you’re interested.)  It was a narrow two-laner, with huge trees edging the road, nearly encroaching on it, and hanging overhead like a canopy.  We drove through an amazing tunnel of leaves.

There was no traffic.  None.  It was as if we were alone in the world.

But we hadn’t seen anything yet.

My husband kept saying, “I can’t believe this road!  I can’t believe these trees. . .”  Then suddenly, he put on the brakes, and did a three-point-turn-around, right there on the highway.

“Where are you going?” I asked.

“You’ll see.”

He drove back a hundred feet and pulled onto a narrow shoulder.  He turned off the car.  “Come on.”

He led me to a small sign at the side of the road that marked a hiking trail.  Small sign.  Easily missed.

But he hadn’t missed it.

Thank God.

We walked single file into the woods, the path more like a deer trail than one meant for humans.  The trail was thickly carpeted with leaves and it was evident no one had passed this way for ages.   Perhaps ever. 

As I picked up a red leaf as big as my hand, and then an orange one, then a bigger yellow one, I was like a kid in a candy store.  “Look at this one!”  Soon I had a leaf bouquet, their colors as vivid as if I’d dipped them in vats of paint.

It didn’t take long for us to be deep enough into the woods to lose track of the road, to be fully encased in this netherland beyond our own.

When I allowed my gaze to move from the floor of the forest upward, I saw that we were experiencing showers—not of rain but of leaves.  For all around us leaves fell from the trees, dancing their way from branch to ground, landing on our heads and letting us catch them with the simple effort of an outstretched hand.

Without agreeing to it, both of us stopped walking and stood perfectly still, a dozen feet between us.  We faced each other, our heads shaking back and forth in utter incredulity.

“Listen,” I whispered.

I heard Mark take a breath and hold it.  I did the same. 

And then it happened.

My eyes caught sight of one specific leaf.  I watched as it let go of its branch and sashayed to the ground, turning, bowing, floating . . .

And then I saw it touch the ground between us.

I heard it touch the ground.

I heard it.

I looked at Mark.  The awe in his face revealed that he had seen it too; heard it land.

All logic said it was impossible to hear the moment when a floating leaf meets the ground.  The sound is too infinitesimal, the decibel-level un-measurable to the human ear. 

And yet . . . we’d both heard it on a trail never-traveled, off a solitary road in Maine.

We were reluctant to leave that place, and when we got in the car and turned on the engine, the sound seemed a sacrilege.  Yet as the road led us to a town, and people, and the world and its worries, we looked upon all of that busyness with new eyes that understood what really mattered. Neither of us has ever forgotten what happened in the woods.  It was the highlight of the entire trip, a moment when God led us to a special place to show us something.

Just for us.

Just because.

If a tree falls in the forest does it make a sound?

Oh yes. 


1 comment:

  1. Oh how awesome!! I want to do that!! Thanks for sharing it with us!