As we head out of the mountains….far ahead of the winter snow…

I’m revisiting of a poem I wrote at a similar time and place…exactly 10 years ago:


When we first arrived in October…immediately we slowed

our attention focused on the fallen leaves that were carpeting the road.


Stepping outside we noticed the trees seemed much brighter than before

as if hinting at the coming miracles and wonders they had in store.


Each morning we were greeted by the sun and a cool October breeze.

Our eyes darted from one color to the next ‘neath the changing kaleidoscope of trees


We found it nearly impossible to focus on one particular hue

from the oranges, yellows and reds of the trees to the heavens dressed in blue.


We were honored to be a witness at the season of Autumn’s birth.

then quickly we felt the evanescence as more and more leaves rained down upon the Earth. 


It was wonderful to travel to the mountains and among the leaves to roam

but time, as she moves ever onward is calling us back home.


So we leave our mountains with smiles on our faces 

with new memories fresh inside our heads

ready for our next adventure…like two 70 year old newlyweds.


It’s true we live our life in moments…in a life that constantly rearranges

which means it’s up to us to find our happiness as the world around us changes.


Yes, life is one transformation after another…that’s what I perceive

seems to me (just as we did 10 years ago)

we have a lot in common with the changing of the leaves.

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As more and more leaves are beginning to fall meaning Autumn is coming to an end

we remembered we promised to bring a collection of leaves back to Florida

to the children of our neighbors and friends.


So we’re catching fresh leaves as they fall…hoping we’ll make the right selection…

that we’ll find the perfect leaves…in a rainbow of colors…

for an Autumn leaf collection….


We couldn’t help thinking back to when we were young, innocent and protected

at all the things that amazed us back then…and all the things that we collected.


We collected dolls and rocks and bugs we’d find crawling in our yards…

seashells, coins, action figures…marbles and baseball cards…


But of all the collections we amassed…that our imagination and knowledge fed

the most important things we as children collected…were the words our parents said…


Their words of compassion…words of joy…

the way they said our name

their words of love…their words of hate…

we collected them all the same.


What made these words important…

the words our parents’ were choosing…

is that we caught and we collected them…

and they became the words that we’re now using.


So we are happy to add our assortment of leaves

gifted to us from the trees this Fall…

to their collection of words from their family and friends…

their most important collection of all.

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One thing that strikes you when you’re out in nature…

(that, once you know it helps you to proclaim,)

is how, of all the wonders you are seeing…no two are ever the same.


They may share similarities…but it’s part of nature’s mystique 

that everything she has created is individual and unique.


No two stars are identical…no two planets…

no two clouds that float upon the breeze… 

no two flowers,…no two rivers,…no two mountains…no two trees.


The fact that no two of anything are identical…

once our eyes have been taught to see

is why we relish in their individual beauty and their overall diversity.


No two waves upon the ocean are identical…

no two fish…no two mammals…and let us not forget

no two apples…no two oranges…no two sunrises…no two sunsets.


The more you walk in nature…the more gratitude and love you’re feeling

knowing that amazing diversity is what makes our world so beautiful…

and our nature so appealing.


What strikes you when you walk among the people…also a part of nature

that once you see it helps you to proclaim….

of all the people you are seeing…no two people are the same.


This fact, instead of dividing us, should unite us…once our eyes are taught to see

we should relish in each one’s beauty…and our world’s diversity.


If only we’d take the time to understand nature’s people

I believe more gratitude and love we would be feeling…

knowing it is our amazing uniqueness that makes us all so beautiful

and our nature so appealing.

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My normal walk this morning wasn’t as normal as it seemed…

which made me question if I was truly walking…or walking in a dream.


As I stepped into the morning…an icy chillness filled the air

and I began to see things I don’t normally see…things I knew could not be there.


To the left of me I saw my parents…I didn’t understand 

what my parents doing here…and why were they holding hands?


Certainly it was unexpected….my Mom and Dad to meet

but there were people as far as I could see up and down the street.


I saw Deborah’s parents and Chrissy, a friend who died too young…

and other people we’ve lost along the way…

Chrissy was holding our old dog Whitman, 

another sign that this was not just any other day


With every step I took…the farther I moved away from my front door

everyone grew younger…then faded away and I saw faces I’ve never seen before.


Just like Mom and Dad…everyone was smiling and waving in the chilly morning breeze.

When I looked up the stars were twinkling, the moon was smiling…

Did I hear laughter in the trees?


When I turned for home…as the second half of my morning walk I started to traverse…

everything I just explained…began to happen…in reverse.


I lingered for a moment… outside of my front door…

to visit with my parents, Deborah’s parents, Chrissy and Whitman a little more.


Once inside the door I quickly turned around, and stepped out on the lawn

though I searched in all directions…but…everyone was gone….


Or were they?…perhaps this was just their way of telling me…wherever I go in life….

as I compose my daily rhyme…

The very people I’ve thought I’ve lost along the way…

have been with me all the time.

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The reality of mistakes…and I see no reason to doubt it 

is they are part of being human…make no mistake about it.


When it comes to making mistakes…no one is immune

If you haven’t made one yet…no worries…

you’re bound to make one soon.


The beauty of a mistake is once it has been made

once it has entered through our front door…

If we learn from it…

there’s a possibility we’ll be a better person…

than the one we were before

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It is amazing…oftentimes to our wonder and delight…sometimes to our dismay

how we are the authors of our fairytales…the protagonists in our play. 


How ‘neath the different colors of our covers…

we…as author…or playwright

in a multitude of languages…complete a chapter every night.


Our parents compose the first few chapters until such a time as when

our fairytale gets interesting…and we control the pen.


For we find when our story crisscrosses other stories…other places…other names

how, though our stories share similar moments…no two stories are the same.


The beauty of our fairytale is how every day it lengthens and expands

meaning no matter what we wrote the day before…the next chapter is in our hands.


Over time we find our spines may sag a little…our covers start to fade

our pages may discolor…our binding become frayed.


but, despite the inevitable ravages of time which on every book will take its toll,

we hope our fairy tale will have a happy ending and never lose its heart…and soul.


Besides, anyone who’s wise…any bibliophile…or book lover

knows it’s never a good idea to judge a book…based solely on its cover.


knows every story’s different…how life seldom goes the way we planned

how every book has value…and how NO book should ever be banned.


I suppose the best we can hope for is to learn from our mistakes

and hope, in our book, they’re never repeated…

and that people will smile as they read our chapters…

and…once our fairy tale is completed.

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 His father loved baseball…he watched his favorite team religiously…

“It’s a lot like life.” He’d say. “Come and watch a game with me.”


“When it’s your turn to bat,” he’ said, “when you step up to the plate…

You hope to do your best….but you never know your fate.”


“You’re ready…and a little nervous…as you hear the catcher pound his mitt.

You don’t know if you will make an out…or…if you will get a hit.”


“Sometime you will get a hit…other times you’ll make an out…

for that, my son, is what baseball…and life is all about.”


“But whether you get a hit…or make an out…either way…

you are determined…you can’t wait…

until the next time you get another chance…to step up to the plate.”


“The great thing about baseball and life,” he smiled, “is no matter how you do…

every time you step up to bat…I will be rooting for you.”


As he and his dad watched his daughter and his granddaughter, 

play baseball the other day…from high atop the stands…

they cheered her every move…they were her biggest fans.


As he watched his dad sitting there…enjoying every facet to the game…

his mind drifted back to when he was younger…

and how he thought some of his advice was pretty lame.


Then remembering watching baseball with him…

and his dad’s words…words he’ll never forget….

He thought to himself,

“Isn’t it funny how Dad seems so much smarter…

the older that I get.”

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I believe we are all artists…artists…in our own way.

adding new colors to the self portrait we are painting every day.


Which means there will always be a little wet paint on this portrait we’re maintaining 

because as each new day adds new adventures it’s clear…we haven’t finished painting.


So when we brush up against another person…as our lives become intertwined

they are likely to get some of our paint on them…and leave some of theirs behind.


Which means however short or long are those moments that we share

their paint becomes part of our portrait…and ours…a part of theirs.


Tammy was seated at the next table in one of our favorite restaurants…

our menus we had just received…

We were getting ready to order…Tammy was ready to leave.


Not knowing we came there often Tammy said, “You are going to love their food.”

After Deborah asked what she recommended a short conversation ensued.


We asked where she was from, “South Carolina was her answer.”

She’d been in our town for 12 weeks…undergoing treatment for her cancer.


She recommended a specialty burger…with a balsamic reduction covered in brie…

It’s what she ate to celebrate her going home…and being cancer free!


We talked for a little while about the weather, families…what new friends do… 

And as she left the restaurant we bid Tammy adieu.


Deborah ordered her suggestion…she said it tasted great.

by the look on her face I think it was one of the best burgers she ever ate.


I hope we see Tammy again someday…

if not…we will not make a fuss…

because in those few moments our self portraits were forever changed…

by the colors she brushed on us.

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It’s funny how a simple question…a group of words…when combined

can set off a flurry of activity within the recesses of your mind.


I was taste testing another batch of Deborah’s famous chocolate chip cookies

(Yes, my epicurean cookie skills are vast)

after giving her the thumbs up…she smiled, looked at me, and asked:


“I wonder how many of these cookies I’ve made for everyone over all these years?”

Which set my mind to wondering past cookies to all the moments we’ve shared..

all the laughter…all the tears.


How many moments did we have when everything in life seemed just right?

How many times have we hugged our children and grandchildren?

How many times have we kissed goodnight?


How many times have he held hands or looked into each other’s eyes?

How many times have we watched the sun set?  

How many times have we seen her rise?


In all our travels…in all our walks…I had to wonder…how many miles?

How many loud and happy moments have we shared?

How many silent moments?  How many smiles? 


How many times have we said, ‘I love you’?…I can’t even guess at the amounts. 

Suffice it to say…in a lifetime together…we long ago lost count.


I imagine what’s important in life…is that these moments…we create them!

We don’t need to keep track of every moment…there’s no need to calculate them.


There’s no need to keep a tally…

no need to discover the exact amount.

What’s important is knowing tomorrow…

if we’re blessed…

we’ll be adding to the count.

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