Where Does It Keep the Leaves?

There is a big maple tree in my back garden. Four foot-thick trunks rise from a large single trunk, with many smaller branches arcing from them. From these smaller branches, most no more than an inch or two or three in diameter, spring a myriad of twigs. Tiny lacy twigs that fill the winter sky like a spider web.

Looking up at that bare-ribbed umbrella of a tree one January morning, I had to ask myself, "Where does it keep all those leaves?"

Now, you might think that a silly question, and no doubt it is - we all know where leaves come from. But this is a maple tree, with huge, thick, leathery leaves. Thousands upon thousands of them. Broad palmated leaves 6-8 inches across. When they fall to the ground in the autumn, they fill 8 to 10 yard waste bins. I have to rake the yard in shifts.

So that's why, looking up at those spindly, spidery twigs in January, I just had to wonder, "Where does it keep all those leaves?"

I'm convinced that what goes on inside of trees is just as wondrous if not more so than what we see everyday. How do we see a tree? Shade. Building supply. Furniture. Oxygen. Stuff we can use. All good stuff. I've got nothing against it.

But what does the tree think it's doing? Forget the strictures against anthropomorphizing for just a second here. I'm using "think" in the sense of basic physiological intent. What does the tree intend, is perhaps a better way of putting it.

And I think that a tree is intent upon doing what every other living thing on earth is intent upon doing. Creation. We are all involved in the act of creation.

It's June now. Thousands of huge, leathery, forest-green leaves hang from thousands of twigs too small to make kindling, too weak to support a stool, without even enough substance to make a usable clothespin. But they support leaves enough to fill 10 yard waste bins. Big ones.

Those leaves were in there somewhere.