Sunday, December 21, 2008

A leaf print

In high school there was a funny spot on one of my favorite roads. I was lucky to live on Unicoi State Park, in north Georgia, and on the border of the Chattahoochee National Forest with my family. There were 6 of us in a tiny two bedroom cabin, so I spent as many hours outside as I could.

On our road, the one up to Anna Ruby Falls, I found a place where the outline of a leaf was perfectly placed on one of the double yellow lines. A truck had come along and painted those lines, and this defiant leaf stayed there, leaving black leaf shadow on the yellow stripe.

I remembered that leaf print the other day, when I was thinking about all the miles of road before and after that spot. What stood out was just the negative space, the place where the leaf had been, but was no more.

The compelling thing about it, to me, was the impact - random but sure - of one leaf in the same safe predictable pattern of yellow ribbon over a mountain road in a forest of deep green and lush waters, filled with trout and the pulse of the earth.

Yellow paint was man's imprint, attempting to bring some order to what is essentially chaos. I guess that's what I loved about that small act of defiance.

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