Bigleaf Maples (Acer macrophyllum) group together in a large forested stand in our backyard. Their presence cools us in the heat of summer with their shade, and their branches provide endless childhood delights. And in Autumn, their yellow and orange hues transform our home’s sunlight into gold. As temperatures drop and wind commences its more forceful seasonal blows, these large leaves flutter and float through the sky, downward falling only to be lifted once again toward the trees; a dance that seems to speak to the leaf’s own uncertainty of where now to call home: the woods or the earth?
My children squeal with delight when the Bigleaf Maple relinquishes her seeds, dispersing them through the air with the aid of extremely well designed membranous wings. We stand together in our yard, scanning the sky for a sighting of these swirling seeds, watching their twirling trajectory from tree to terra. The boys run pell-mell, hands outstretched in hopes of intersecting this annual planting. They intuitively appreciate these ‘helicopters’ and attribute to a captured fruit the most coveted of names: favored toy.
In the midst of their laughter, I watch these seeds twirl and tumble through the air looking for places to settle and create a new stand of trees. I can’t help but wonder if our own patterns of living (as we leave our ‘parent plant’ to find our own home in the understory) sometimes look like the zig-zag pattern of these in-flight whirlybirds. I wonder if our lives are like the seeds—feeling the lifting and carrying of the winds combined with the curious uncertainty of where we may land. We whirl and wait, waiting to fall to a special, sacred place of the earth where we can burrow, take root and unfold in all we were created to be.
I wonder, if allowed to root, if allowed to grow, OUR gifts would be that which someday grows to create a golden hue in the lives and homes of Other?