“The trees have begun to let go.”
There is no immediate response, as tea is being set. I watch as Grandmother arranges plates, cups, spoons on the old dining table.
She has left the window ajar; through it drift scents of rest, of nature preparing to slumber. Drops of dew from occasional rain. Pinecones gathering along the sidewalk. A whiff of smoke from neighbors’ chimneys.
Grandmother does not answer until the biscuits and sugar cubes are in place. “We should let go, too,” she says.
I pour water into my cup, wondering what I would release if I allowed myself to be bold as the trees outside. What would I be comfortable with forgetting, tossing aside, never to pick up again? Which burden, once released, would make me free to rest for months and months?
“So should I,” adds Grandmother, sitting. “Alas, humans do not think that way. When we choose lives of worry and fuss, it is difficult to go another way.”
“Do you know what you would let go of?” I ask, fascinated for a glimpse into her mind. Her perspective has more years behind it than I can fathom.
Grandmother offers a vague smile. “What to release after seventy years? There were bad events, yes—but all served to teach me about life.”
I am puzzled. “Should we not let go at all, then?”
She is stirring her tea now, a slow, patient movement, allowing the sugar to dissolve at its own pace.
“Perhaps trees do not release their leaves,” she muses. “Perhaps the leaves release the trees—so the tree has no choice in the matter. What will go, will go, dear. You won’t ruminate later, because it is gone.”
I look outside and see a leaf drop from a bough—breaking free, escaping, its work done.
Grandmother might be right.
Thoughts and memories might do the same thing for us, and we will never need to know.