Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of November 18, 2002
To everything there is a season
Consider the life of a leaf and then consider your life
By SUZANNE ELSTON
My husband Brian and I have always marked the anniversary of our first date. We usually meet for lunch - just like we did on our very first sojourn together.
This year, however, marked our 20th anniversary and we wanted do something a little more interesting that simply meet for a meal. Our children are finally old enough to look after each other for at least 24 hours, so we decided to take a mini-vacation.
We left on Friday afternoon with the goal of finding an interesting restaurant for dinner and a romantic place to stay for the night. We drove east along the north shore of Lake Ontario, enjoying the autumn scenery and each other's company. We'd checked out a few places along the way, but nothing seemed quite right.
Our hopes of finding the perfect magical spot began to fade with the light of day when we saw a sign on the side of the road - Devonshire Inn, 17 km. We weren't quite too sure where we were, and so I enlisted the aid of a helpful operator to find a number for what turned out to be a bed and breakfast.
They only had one room left - The Waterfall Room - that gets its name from the small waterfall that runs beneath the balcony off the suite. The private bathroom, not always a given at a B&B, housed a two-person Jacuzzi.
"We'll take it."
The Devonshire is a beautifully restored inn located right on the beach in Wellington. Over time it has served as everything from a foundry and private residence to a nursing home. Today, it is a magnificent testament to its owner, carpenter and chef, Dave and his wife Kathy. Every room is airy and spacious and lovingly restored with period furniture, natural wood floors and fireplaces - lots of fireplaces.
After a truly sumptuous dinner our host, Dave, joined us. We chatted about everything from life in California in the '60s to the Canadian mental health system. We sipped Triple Sec and ate really good chocolate cake. It was a perfect evening.
The next morning I stood on our balcony watching the leaves fall into the waterfall and tumble down a small creek toward the nearby lake. I took particular notice of one perfectly formed maple leaf as it drifted down and began its final journey. I watched as it swirled slowly in the water until we decided to head down for breakfast.
To my delight, the creek continued past the window where we were seated, and I was able to catch up with my leaf's progress. I wondered how far it would travel into the lake when it was caught up in a clump of leaves at the mouth of the creek and stopped - just a few metres away from the shoreline.
"Now what?" I asked Brian.
One of the things that I love about my husband is his encyclopedic knowledge of just about everything. He described how the leaf would freeze in the coming months. The cell walls of the leaf would break down, releasing its essential nutrients into the water. These in turn would be fed upon by zooplankton - the most abundant life form on Earth. The zooplankton would in turn be eaten by little fishes that would be eaten by bigger fishes that would eventually be eaten by birds or even humans.
When he had finished his dissertation I added, "And then the birds will fly over the tree where the leaf came from and poop. The poop will fertilize the tree, which will in turn grow new leaves."
Brian kidded me that the only thing missing was Elton John singing The Circle of Life, and I began to laugh. It was the carefree, joyous laugh of a six-year-old dancing in the rain, or a baby learning how to play peek-a-boo.
There are billions and billions of leaves that fall every autumn, ending their lives in streams or compost bins or bonfires, and we scarcely notice them. And yet the journey of a single leaf can perfectly illustrate the life cycle of the planet.
Seasons and anniversaries remind us of this endless cycle, and yet we are often too busy to slow down and acknowledge their passing. "To everything there is a season, and a time for every purpose under heaven," the Book of Ecclesiastes tells us. Thanks to a single leaf, a beautiful B&B and a few stolen hours with the man that I love, I was reminded that there is also a time for joy.
Recommended websites:The Devonshire Inn is located on the web at www.devonshire-inn.com.
For more information about B&Bs, visit Bed & Breakfasts Inns of North America at www.InnTravels.com.
Read, "When the leaves begin to fall", at www.suite101.com/article.cfm/7237/82115.
For a lovely lesson for children about the life cycle of trees, visit teacher.scholastic.com/lessonrepro/lessonplans/profbooks/applelife.htm.
Copyright © 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009 -- Western Catholic Reporter
Our mission: To serve our readers by bringing the Gospel to bear on current issues in the Church and in secular culture through accurate news coverage and reflective commentary.