There is a huge maple tree that stands just outside of our kitchen window. Each morning, while I waited for the coffee machine to manufacture a cup of black, I stared past its branches and sleepily counted vehicles pass through the town's only traffic light.
At least I did, until around mid-December, when, during a blustery and cold morning, I noticed the epileptic shaking of a single leaf.
It wasn't hard for the movement of the dried-up leaf to catch my attention because it was the only one left in the tree. Its brethren had bailed out months ago. Taking the season's name "fall" literally, they had all jumped ship and now were gainfully employed as the early stages of soil or official pests to neighbors who actually rake leaves (I have found only three reasons human beings should rake leaves - the first is to construct a huge pile to jump in and the last two are to use them as mulch in a garden or stuff the pants of a scarecrow).
My first encounter with the leaf left me with a feeling of melancholy. There it was, all by its lonesome, brown and shriveled - devoid of life - clinging to a twig and trembling in the cold. It was framed by a gun-metal sky.
C'est la vie, leaf. My coffee was done and so were my thoughts about the leaf - until the next morning.
There it was again, the solitary leaf, twittering in the wind (I mean "twittering" in the sense of movement, not electronically texting messages - although, in retrospect, I definitely would have subscribed to hear the leaf's thoughts on the world).
Day, after day, week after week, the lone leaf hung firm in the tree and slapped back and forth in the wind. I had named it "Leaf Garrett" and no longer saw its movement as the result of trembling in the cold, but more as a fist-shake at the powers that be.
Leaf Garrett became a symbol of defiance, a brother-in-arms who thumbed his nose at the typical and chose the atypical, the more difficult path, the tough journey.
This morning I thought I had finally lost him, but it was only a trick of the early light and the absence of wind. During a second cautious check, I found him - Leaf Garrett - rebelliously hanging on for dear life - laughing at us all.