Every morning before beginning my day I sit at my desk and check my e-mail while looking out the window at my back yard. We live on the Megunticook River below Seabright Dam, so the water course is rather narrow here. But we can often hear the river's soothing rush. Birds move through trees that form a screen of sorts between our house and the water. Right now a flock of crows is noisily making its way through the neighborhood. Because most of the branches are bare, I can see where they land; their bodies bob up and down with each yell.
A hollowed stump holds a last lingering chrysanthemum, brave purple blossoms capped by a pile of fallen leaves. One tree retains most of its foliage, a young maple that was the last to turn. Its wide bright leaves, turned up to the morning sun like so many outstretched palms, scatter and twirl in all directions in a true shower of gold. A mosaic of russets and golds from maple, beech, ash and oak carpets our lawn. And our mossy-roofed shed sits in the middle, blocking the best water view, but also blocking our winter view of nearby houses that become very visible once the branches are bare. Our tiny space is contained in its way, bound by the river and a steep bluff, and a fence one one side. A neighbor's dog barks in the distance, and nearby someone chain-saws fallen branches, making firewood for the winter ahead.
A string of Buddhist prayer flags hangs above our shed door: blue, white, red, green, and yellow (symbolizing sky, wind, fire, water, and earth) against the white of the shed. When the wind flutters the flags, it spreads the blessings inscribed on each piece of cloth throughout the surrounding space of my yard, the neighborhood, the river... This morning I notice that a maple leaf has landed exactly at the end of the string, gold leaf right next to a yellow scrap of fabric, as if it wanted to be part of the "wind horse." It too is inscribed with a mantra written in the calligraphy of its veins. The crows, chickadees, and busy squirrels will benefit from this blessing when it eventually blows away.
Fallen maple leaf
joins the string of prayer flags--
all spread their blessings.
(Unfortunately this was taken before the leaf positioned itself at the end of the string.)