The image I have chosen for my month is two maple leaves. I grew up in Montreal, and on the way home from school from time to time, I would stop to collect beautiful multi-coloured maple leaves to gift to my mother. Maple leaves are symbolic for many of us of back east – and of Canada itself.
These two leaves were ones I found on a beautiful property in St. Saveur in July, a village north of Montreal. I spent most of July in Montreal, visiting my mother most every day in hospital. She is almost 88 years old now, and has dementia as well as various other health issues that can go along with aging.
Near the end of my stay, I got to spend a few days with a dear friend from my Montreal childhood. She knows my mother well and I knew her mother too, who passed a few years ago. We met in St. Saveur – she was coincidentally in town at the same time, visiting from her home in California.
We spent one morning kayaking on the lake in front of where she was staying. It was calming, rejuvenating and connecting. After our adventure, I spent a bit of time at the side of the lake. I was looking into the water’s edge when I noticed multiple leaves of various kinds in the water. Many of them were partially submerged in the sand under the water.
The black leaf in my picture is of a maple leaf I found partially submerged in the sand and water shoreline. I carefully pulled it out and laid it on the dock to dry. It fascinated me. I found a new, green leaf of similar proportions as its companion.
Together, they are the image of my July. On the one hand, we have the prime of our lives. We are green and vibrant and full of life. My childhood in Montreal, with my mother as she was, with my friend preserved as she was. As time progresses, we fade to black. We lose our way, we become submerged, we rot. The black leaf representing, for me, the pain of the summer watching my mother fade further away, physically and mentally.
Those are the two polarities of life itself, it seems to me – both light and dark, pain and joy, regret and satisfaction. To fully feel this spectrum is what it means to be alive. It can be hard to look at the darkness and pain in life. I met an Israeli environmentalist on the plane back from back east. He said people are dying in Israel every day – and no one seems to know or care. He also said that wanting peace is seen as a left-wing idea.
That made me cry.
So, how have you felt both the pain and the joy of life this summer thus far? Is there anyone you want to reconcile with? Is there anything you still want to do? There’s still another full month before our usual September obligations hit.
Make it count!
As you look back, and as you look forward, what is your image?