written in the leaves

Leaf reading is a skill not easily learned, as there is such a limited time to practice it each year. It is a temporary thing. Glimpses of image and pattern carefully translated into meaning.

Traditionally it is taught, passed down from reader to student through years of autumns spent in intense instruction, calling attention to the variety of the leaf, the level of decay, the size and shape of each void and the way their meanings impact each other. All layered over to form their messages, their last cries to the world before the wind takes them away with a sound like mice scampering across the pavement.

But now the students, when there are any students, do not have the patience for it, becoming frustrated with the wind rather than working with it, easily distracted by less arcane methods of communication.

Their instructors try each year with slowly diminishing effort, but the teaching time is fleeting. The patterns stay for only moments before they are lost, messages in brief whispers that require straining and concentration to hear.

Every year there are fewer teachers, and even fewer students barely receiving passing grades.

Another language almost lost.


About flax-golden tales. Photo by Carey Farrell. Text by Erin Morgenstern.


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