When a leaf falls from a tree in autumn, its work is not done.
Though no longer living, it still has much to do.
Among these things, is the sheltering of small creatures at a time of hardship for them.
It did so for the large ones in summer past, on walks in nature that came to feel more important than they ever had done before.
Throughout the kinds of showers that saw solitary strangers run for cover, and come together, while observing the necessary distance.
Connected beneath this leaf with a reason to laugh as they enjoyed a rare communal moment.
Shaking droplets from their fingers.
Making small talk and small showers of their own.
Looking to the sky for reassurance.
Making the collective decision to emerge with the unfolding blue.
Downpours never last.
But that which falls must land.
This leaf, suspended within the intricacies of a spider’s web, has been prevented from doing so.
It is halted in its purpose.
The alteration from green with the season went as planned.
As did its release.
The letting go occurred quietly in a seemingly unremarkable moment.
The falling followed with surprising effortlessness.
And that was when the wind intervened.
When the spider got more than she bargained for, and the leaf became trapped before the playing out of its final Act.
As things stand, it cannot rustle beneath feet with the rest.
The contrast afforded by its place among others in the lowering sunlight is denied.
It cannot nourish the soil.
It cannot protect and feed the plants that will see spring.
It cannot provide the safety, warmth and comfort essential to hibernation.
It is of no use to the spider.
Today, I will go outside, and set it free.
So that it can complete its fall.
So that it can fulfil its purpose.
So that the living may continue to benefit
From its transient, beautiful life.
By Emma Hynes
This image and story are part of a project I have devised called There Are No Fixed Stars, my creative response to living with COVID-19 restrictions. On 22 October 2020, Ireland’s highest level of protective measures were invoked nationwide for a period of six weeks. Starting on that date, and continuing for the duration, I plan to capture a new image each day, and write a piece inspired by it. The only restrictions are that I take the photograph and write the text within this timeframe. To receive these daily posts to your inbox, you can subscribe by hitting the follow button to the right, and entering your email address. They will also be posted to my Instagram, Twitter and Facebook profiles; I may even read a selection on my YouTube channel. You can follow or subscribe to any of those at the links below. In a time when variety, stimulation and spontaneity are inhibited, my hope is that anyone who chooses to view or read these pieces might feel that they can travel while standing still, and that they might find something new in the today with the promise of more tomorrow.
There Are No Fixed Stars
Day One – A Creative Response to Now
Day Two – Suspension
Day Three – From the Perspective of the Dahlia
Day Four – The Writer at Dawn
Day Five – Beneath the Viaduct
Day Six – Nature’s Book
Day Seven – The Lighthouse
Day Eight – Formations
Day Nine – Rebirth
Day Ten – Light Source
Day Eleven –Takeaway
Day Twelve – Vigilance
Day Thirteen – Defiance
Day Fourteen – Exposure
Day Fifteen – Platform
Day Sixteen – Momentum
Day Seventeen – The Point of Shelter
Day Eighteen – The Honest Writer
Day Nineteen – Moored
Day Twenty – Selfhood
Day Twenty-One – Assurance
Day Twenty-Two – Skylines
Day Twenty-Three – All That Is Lost
Day Twenty-Four – The Oblivious Bird
Day Twenty-Five – Horizon
Day Twenty-Six – Intertidal
Day Twenty-Seven – Lifelines
Day Twenty-Eight – Threshold
Day Twenty-Nine – Perception
Day Thirty – Presence
Day Thirty-One – Pathways
Day Thirty-Two – Lunar Phase
Day Thirty-Three – Time
Day Thirty-Four – Safety
Day Thirty-Five – Sometimes the Heart Soars
Day Thirty-Six – Fulfilment
Day Thirty-Seven – Joy
Day Thirty-Eight – Pride
Day Thirty-Nine – Loss
Day Forty – Time to Fly