Year of the Leaf Meditation:
Close your eyes and imagine yourself getting very, very small. Very, very small, and all curled up, waiting for something.
The smaller you get, the more squished you get, and you start to turn green. The greener you become, the smaller you get, until you are the size of a pea, perched high up in the air…until you are a small, green leaf, curled up into a tiny bud on the top branch of a tall oak tree.
The air is cold, and you shiver in the icy breeze of winter, in the rain and snow…but as the days go by, you feel the sun growing stronger and stronger, as the light shines on you just a little bit longer.
You rest, tiny and green, curled up on your branch, inside of your bud, waiting for the sign that the time is right.
The day has come!
After a long, cold winter, it is finally warm enough for you to break free of your bud! You unfurl into the breeze, attached to your branch with your petiole “foot”, swaying from side to side.
You have emerged as a little green leaf, on the top branch, of a tall oak tree.
Stretch yourself into the sun and let its warm rays sink into you. Inside of you, your chlorophyll starts to collect pieces of sunlight. It is your chlorophyll that makes you green, and makes food for you to grow and for the rest of your tree.
As you bask in the sun, you take those pieces of sunlight and turn it into food with your chlorophyll in a process called photosynthesis. You breathe through tiny little holes on your underside called stomata.
You have now grown into a big green leaf, waving in the summer sun, from the top branch, of your tall oak tree.
Every day, you draw water and nutrients up your petiole that has traveled up from very end of the roots of your tree, into your tissues, to stay strong and healthy. In return, you send the sugar you make as food down your veins, through your petiole back into the tree, which sends it to the places where it is needed that cannot make their own food.
You might just be one green leaf of many on this tall oak tree, but by working together, you and your fellow leaves are able to make enough food to feed the tree, AND to store it for the long winter to come, AND to make the next generation of trees, by making acorns.
You help your tree grow thousands of acorns every year, all summer long.
And as the wind grows cooler, and the days grow shorter, you start to change colors. You know that you will not be able to get enough light to help your tree over the winter, which is why you worked so hard all summer long for your tree.
Your chlorophyll disappears, and all that is left is a beautiful red color, that the green had been hiding. No longer are you a green leaf–now you are a red leaf on the top branch of a tall oak tree.
You watch as your tree drops the acorns you helped create. Many different animals will eat some of acorns that fall on the ground. You watch as squirrels scurry about, burying the acorns, in the hopes that they keep them to eat over the winter. You know that the squirrels will probably forget some of those acorns, and new trees will get the chance to sprout and grow into another strong, tall oak tree.
You are a red leaf, on the top branch of a tall oak tree, and you know that it is almost time for you to fall. But that is alright, because you know that you have helped your tree make preparations for the winter and for a new spring. Even now, there are little tiny buds being made nearby on your branch, that will continue to help the tree, just like you.
As the year turns into autumn, the attachment to your tree becomes weak. And finally, in a strong breeze, your petiole foot lets go of the branch and you are released into the wind.
You are a red oak leaf, whirling and twirling, into the breeze, wondering where you will land.
But you know that even now, there is a little green leaf, all curled up in its bud, on the top branch of a tall oak tree…waiting for spring.
The best place to think about being a tree…is in a tree!