My sister sent me a leaf from Germany. The little splotches of green in it are slowly giving way to the orange and brown of the rest of the leaf. On a small pink sticky note, she wrote “Here’s a tiny bit of Germany for you, Josh!” I have another leaf on my desk from earlier in the semester. I can’t even remember why I brought it in. I just remember bringing it up to the house and putting it on the table, saying to one of my flatmates, “here, have some nature.” When it was doomed for the garbage, I laid it amidst all my little reminders and notes scattered on my desk – almost like small white leaves themselves.
There’s a leaf in my room at my Grandparents’ house – they framed it after I sent it to them several years ago from Pakistan, in a letter, as a last minute addition to the envelope. The strangest part is that the words I wrote to my Grandparents were almost identical to my sister’s. “Here’s a little bit of Murree,” I wrote. So as I opened up my sister’s envelope to find this leaf, I felt a strange sense of happy déjà vu. I guess there’s no doubt that we are definitely siblings, and that, for some reason, we see a leaf as a valuable and meaningful token of our love and care, and a representation of a place we enjoy. Perhaps we’re just strange.
But what is it that is so special about a leaf? Why do I find them so meaningful? Perhaps it’s just an attempt to bring the world into my room, and to try get nature to be where it can’t be. Perhaps a part of it is the fact that it was once living, attached to a strong and rooted tree – permanent, connected, and growing. It bears memories of something far larger and far more sedentary. But, disconnected and detached from its place, it’s suddenly transient and momentary, holding its last hues of green only until they drain from its patterned veins. Leaves are marked by change. From the fresh brightness of their first growth to the burlap brown of their death, they fill the branches above with ever changing colour and vibrance – nature’s mural, hung above our heads. And yet when winter arrives, the trees simply shake their beauty to the ground in a sea of orange and brown, soon to be covered by a thick blanket of snow.
There’s something magical about a leaf. There’s something amazingly beautiful about it’s humble and simple colours. And it’s comforting to know that I have a sister just as crazy as me, who sends leaves with her mail as a symbol of her love for people and places.