We treasure and value gold. It is rare, it is precious, it is easily molded, it has a low melting point, it is soft and impractical for most uses. We see it in the trees in October, and almost forget to notice. Like the precious metal, the leaves of fall seem especially valuable. Unlike gold itself, we can place no price on them. They seem to have collected sun, a whole summer’s worth of sun, and now filled with it, can’t sustain being held in the trees with delicate stems. So they fall. If we’re lucky we catch them before they hit the ground.
Unlike the gold to which we compare them, the leaves are so overwhelmingly available, we scoop them up to be deposited in huge numbers at the side of the street. The city workers will pick them up and take them to a landfill. How can we capture them, hold them? In fact we can not. Though they are overwhelmingly with us in uncountable number, they are also soon gone. Holding them is like holding fine sand in our fingers on a hot day at the beach. They sift away before we can stop them. We know they are flooding out of our hands, and we know, too, they always elude capture. They make us thankful, and resentful at the same time. Thankful to see them again, and resentful that they won’t stay. Not friends but precious visitors.
They’ll come back, we know. But we all the same would not have them go.