I had a very long working day yesterday. I left the house before 7am, and didn’t return until nearly 12 hours later. My day involved more than 100km of travel, hosting a field trip, and teaching classes. It rained all day.
As luck would have it when I was coming home after such a big day, transport across the city was affected by a fire at a major station, the weather and various other problems. Everything was running late, some trains had been cancelled, so my train was dreadfully overcrowded. To top it all off, in the crowded airless carriage in which I was travelling, the young woman standing beside me fainted, and we had to assist her and notify the driver (she was OK after a kind soul gave up his seat, and others gave her water and some candy).
When I got home, I was dead-dog tired. As I looked out the sliding doors into the courtyard and contemplated another early morning tomorrow, I felt exhausted just thinking about it. It was pitch black and still raining, and the world seemed a bit bleak to me.
Then the lamp-light in the courtyard caught the flash of something red. Something very red, like a child’s toy or a ball. I kept seeing this flash as I walked past the doors. I had to see what it was.
It was half-hidden under the basil and mint in our herb garden, and it turned out to be not something man-made, but a most beautiful autumn leaf dropped and blown in from our neighbour’s Japanese maple tree.
The red in this leaf was so astounding, I had to photograph it. The way the picture came out, it looks like it is floating in a pond, but it’s actually just sitting against the dappled glass of our outdoor table.
Today, as I went about my work, I kept thinking of that leaf, of the beauty that shone at me out of the night. I looked at the picture again on my phone as I rode the (uneventful) train home from work.
When I got home, my little red leaf had turned a more ruddy shade, as I knew it would. Tomorrow, it will be almost brown. But somehow, I still feel warmed by its vibrant red heyday, yesterday, and I know things aren’t so bad after all.