I stopped today beside the old tree,
its branches peppered with fall’s last leaves.
The ground beneath a carpet of gold,
each fallen leaf a story untold.
I gently lifted one to my ear
and through gentle breezes strained to hear
the tale of a tree learning to grow
through a hundred seasons’ ebb and flow.
The next spoke of many brutal storms,
of yearning to be both safe and warm.
But rooted in place with nowhere to go
to come in from the cold, the wind, and snow.
Another told of each spring’s effect,
of helping the tree to recollect
that every storm reaches its end
and though branches break, they also bend.
By far, most stories led to smiles
many of dropping great leaf piles
for neighboring children soon to find,
leaving their squeals of delight behind.
There were some funny tales in the mix.
One having to do with dropping sticks
on the heads of dogs that stopped below
to distract them so they wouldn’t ‘go’.
I felt this old tree deserved applause,
and I softly clapped my hands because
through all the storms, this tree endeavored
to grow happy and strong … and beautifully weathered.