The life and journey of a leaf
- Sebnem Unlu
- Category: Issue 83 (September - October 2011)
I was created as a small bud on the dry branch of a huge oak tree. The oak tree is a great entity that protects me from being stepped on or eaten by animals. I serve life in many ways: I provide shade and privacy for nests and homes, I add beauty to flowers when various creatures look at them, and I was created green, so when human beings look at me, they feel delighted and invigorated. Green is the hue of life, activity, and strength. It is springtime, and soon I will expand and open up to see the bright face of the sun. Sunlight is a source of my food and the service I do. The more sunrays that hit my surface, the faster I grow, and will generate a great need of life on Earth: oxygen. To the unappreciative eye, I am just a leaf, but the complexity of my reactions are still a great puzzle to scientists who work in large institutions trying to understand the processes going on inside me. It takes them many years to fully comprehend a single step in the process of oxygen generation that takes place within me. Although I am very simple, thin, and fragile, I have been charged with a great service. During the entire summer, I endure the heat of the sun without drying up or wilting. This is because I am constantly fed with a flow of water and minerals from my branch, which was soaked up from the tree's roots embedded deep in the Earth. This constant flow of water enables me to keep upright, sturdy, and open. Most of the water is evaporated through my thin surface, but a small part of it is broken up to provide you with the oxygen that you need to survive. Although this sounds very simple, it requires a great deal of energy. This energy is provided to me through the sun and the sugars that are made in me during this process. When no water falls from the clouds, I suffer. I cannot keep upright to provide you with the oxygen that you need. When it is too hot and there is no rain, I suffer again. Were it not for the babies, the old, and the weak among you, I would dry out completely. When human beings oppress each other, I suffer, because under these conditions water does not fall to Earth despite the clouds in the sky. These clouds also block the sunshine that I need to serve you with oxygen. Right now it is autumn in many places and although I did not dry up in the hot months of the summer, I am now ordered to wither and fall. My color changes from green to yellow, orange, red, and finally brown. As I drop to the ground, people step on me. I get crushed and grinded to pieces as I return back to Earth. The matter used to create me mixes with the soil, until next spring, when I will be high up on the branch looking at you one more time, reminding you of a new beginning after death.
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