The dew covered; spade shaped yellow leaf twirls in mid-air. I’m mesmerized by this mirthful pendulum. Why am I to see these fantastical acrobatics today of all days?
Against the dark green backdrop of rustling leaves, your stage is set. The orchestral music of the breeze sweeps you from your perch and down you float. You swing gentle and calm.
The chirps of birds recede from my eardrums. I settle in and I watch with anticipation. There is a brief pause. The breeze lulls. Surrounded by its’ audience of wildflowers, green plants and branches, the leaf suspends itself in the warmth of the morning air. It spins, slows then spins faster like a trapeze artist anchored by a wisp of spider’s web invisible to my naked eye.
I’m drawn in. The murmur of the audience settles down broken by dry coughs from opposite sides of the theatre balcony. I walk to the center of the stage. The hot stage lights blur the outlines of the audience. I fold myself down onto the stage, one leg outstretched in front the other folded at the knee behind me and I arch forward and wait.
After three beats, the cello cues me and I stretch up lifting my thin arms above my head. Each arm and leg find its place in tune with the music. My slow continuous movements become allegro. I bend, arch, jump and spin across the stage. Two minutes of heaven, applause and I’m racing to the girls’ change room. I burst in and my mom holds my sparkling gold and blue tap costume out to me. I strip out of my cream beige ballet dress. In a matter of ten minutes, I’m now a prancing soldier. She pushes a water bottle into my hand. I gulp. I hand her back the water bottle. I slip on my tap shoes. There is so much garbled chatter around me. I follow my team mates back to the holding area. I hear the click clack of my tap shoes. I wish this to be over. Now. I stomp, glide and sway like a willowy leaf. Please, don’t you wipe out on this stage. Tap shoes are death traps for my ankles. Everything around me disappears.
I’m reluctant and wish the yellow leaf gives me an encore performance. It hangs limp. Did I jinx you? I dig my two-inch-thick, four foot wood walking stick into the earth and continue with each measured breath on my climb up a steep incline of Bruce Trail along the Niagara Escarpment. I make it to the top of the rock clearing. I look out onto the vast array of shade-tolerant Oak-Hickory, Hemlock-Maple and Sugar Maple trees. My two female friends take selfies and make a nuisance of themselves. One friend points her cell phone at me. I cover my face with a hand. She frowns at me and takes the picture anyway. I groan my displeasure at her.
I fill my lungs with the crisp, clean air. I lift my face to the sun and close my eyes. I feel the sun’s rays penetrate deep into my skin. My body centers against the bustle of wind moving to and from, almost slows. I rest the walking stick on the rocky surface. I wait. I see the sky drift ever so effortless towards me. I raise both my arms above my head. I smile. I feel her.
She begins to sway her hips in deliberate circles. She drops her arms out to her sides holding them in mid-air. She waves her arms in figure eight motions. She crouches then stretches into an arch leaning to the right, brings her hips backwards and turns three hundred and sixty degrees. She repeats the movement. She pauses into a tree pose with arms above her head; hands pressed together. Her smile is now a wide grin. She releases her bent leg and rests it gently down. Immediately, she spins and kicks her leg pin straight arching herself backwards. Her leg comes down in a graceful swing over the other leg and she is in a squat position. She reaches up for the sun which engulfs her. She pauses. She breathes. I breathe.
I wait. I open my eyes. I stare at the open expanse of sky. I feel my heart’s strong urge to continue the dance with her, my spirit. I feel her nudge me to go. I pick up my walking stick.
One of my friends taps me on the shoulder. She gives me a quizzical glance. I remain my stoic self, and I give her a reassuring smile.
I follow my friends back towards the trail. As I climb over twigs, rocks, and lazy overhanging tree branches, I slow my pace upon seeing the marked white trail sign on a tree. I see my friends pivot left and continue downwards. I search with great intent. I know this is where I saw the leaf. Now, I wish I had marked the area with something. I scratch my sweaty head.
For what reason, did you want me to see you, yellow leaf? I muster what little reserve strength I have in my legs and trek downwards. A beam of sunlight tickles at my eyes and then it dawns on me. I get why you danced for me little leaf. You want me to see me through your naked eyes. Within my delicate essence is a strength of beauty resigned to be splendor in all facets of my existence. My eyes reflect the world I want to see. I am meant to stand out. I dance for my spirit.
I see my friends waiting for me in the gravel parking lot. I can tell each is annoyed with me.
“What were you doing up there? It’s been over an hour,” says one friend.
“Thinking,” I reply.
I pull my car keys from my jacket pocket. I approach.
“Crap. I have a flat tire.”