Spring had passed. So had Summer. When the lot at 46 Parkview was cleared in October, I couldn’t help but think of the late Leo Buscaglia’s The Fall of Freddy the Leaf.
Freddy had a prime spot high up in the maple tree, enjoying the warm sun, cool breezes, and the absolute best view. Until one morning, he woke with a chill. Not just cool air, but downright cold. That was the morning he saw the first leaf fall from the tree. Freddy wasn’t sure if the leaf had fallen accidentally or had deliberately jumped. About this time was when the larger, older leaf located just above Freddy explained that the season had changed to Autumn and leaves falling were part of the natural yearly tree lifecycle, even inevitable. Freddy didn’t want to hear it. He liked his tree. He liked his tree’s neighbourhood. He even liked that some of his leaf neighbours were a little bit different from each other, while still being the same species. Like it or not, each morning, more of the leaves around him had fallen, some even on his own branch. The older wiser leaf was still there, but he assured Freddy that one day, the end would come for each of them, too. And new leaves would one day take their places. By now, more of the leaves were on the ground than on the tree, but Freddy held fast, determined not to let go. Then one cold, really windy morning, Freddy woke to find his older, wiser neighbor was gone. He had fallen during the night. In fact, Freddy realized he was all alone. As the morning light grew and the sun warmed his wrinkled skin, Freddy’s grasp slipped a little, he lost his balance, and he started falling. It wasn’t as scary as he had imagined. In fact, he only now got a look at the majestic maple tree he had been a small part of. Its branches were thick and strong and reached outward almost as far as they reached toward the sky. Falling was calming for Freddy, not scary. Carried by a soft breeze, Freddy’s landing was cushioned by dozens of familiar leaves.
Our own majestic maple tree at 46 Parkview came down in late October to make room for an expanded sunnier spot in the urban farm we call Parkview Neighbourhood Garden. The tree had reached the end of its arboreal life, but it didn’t die. The tree specialists who took it down saved some of the stronger limbs to be used to erect a new pergola in the garden’s expansion. The shade canopy will continue, just in a different form. The rest of the tree was sent through a chipper and transformed into a large pile of maple wood chips. Those maple wood chips are now insulating the transplanted strawberry patch, protecting it from the harsh winter yet to come. Something for us to think about when we’re enjoying some strawberry jam or a piece of strawberry shortcake next summer. -Gardener Parkview