Once upon a time there was a tree on the side of a hill and on this tree there was a bud, the bud of a new spring green leaf. This leaf was soooo excited to be on the tree. As spring went on he slowly unfurled from his tight bud. Each day he was a little more open. He was going to be the best leaf that ever was! He was going to be greener and prettier and he was going to see everything there was to see from his tree.
Everyday he looked out on the Earth. He felt the sun on his surface. He liked the way that felt. All warm and wonderful, he could feel the warmth turning to sugar to feed the tree and it made him proud to be able to do that.
He liked being near the other leaves and the rustling sounds they made together when the wind came. It was a soft lovely noise.
He liked it when the rain came and got him and his friends all wet and how the rain slid down from one leaf to another before it hit the ground. The leaves liked to play a game to see how long they could hold a drop of water before they had to pass it on to the leaf below.
He liked all the weather although thunder and lighting was kind of scary with all its loud bangs and bright lights. He was a little afraid of being burnt.
He liked talking to the squirrel that lived in the tree. The squirrel was always so busy. Running up and down, gathering nuts from nearby trees and talking to other squirrels. He always had the latest news.
He liked talking to the raven with his deep hoarse voice that came by occasionally. He had wonderful stories of the places he went in winter. Those stories were scary. All the other leaves told him they would be gone by winter but he decided he didn’t want to leave the tree so he listened to those scary stories carefully. What would this winter be like?
He talked to the owl that flew silently in at night. The owl made him jump and shake a little because he never heard the owl coming. Once the owl dropped a feather when he took off quickly to hunt and it landed on him. It was so soft and warm. It made him feel special to be able to touch the owl.
But time was passing every day and the days got longer and then one day they started to get shorter and shorter and he felt a change inside himself. He noticed that he and the other leaves had started to change colour. This wasn’t good at all! He wanted to stay green on his tree forever and he tried to stop is but it just kept happening and he got redder and redder each day. The other leaves started talking about some one called Hecate and they were very excited. All they talked about was going to be with Hecate and would she choose one of them. “Choose them for what?” he thought. “I’m staying right here. I want to see winter even if it is scary. I want to see snow. I want to see things turn white. I want to see the animals go to sleep.”
The leaves around him started letting go. One by one they dropped away with an ecstatic “Whhhhhheeeeeeee!” and away they would spin in the fall breezes and gales but the leaf held on tight to his branch. He started to get lonely but he waited and waited. Soon everyone was gone. Maybe this was going to be lonelier than he thought but he knew it was the only way he was going to see winter. He could see the leaves on the ground under the tree. Most of them blew far, far away, farther than he could see. Was that where this Hecate was? Was that where they really went?
One day he had a big surprise. A woman appeared below his tree, a woman with deep lines in her face and long wavy hair the colour of clouds after the rain. She wore thick clothes in all the colours of all the trees in the woods. Her shawl alone had the deep green of the firs and the yellows of the cottonwood and the reds and oranges of maples, beeches and birches. She stood looking up at him with a kind look on her face. “Time to come down now.” She said quietly.
“Why should I leave my tree?” the leaf asked. “I want to see winter.” The leaf was going to stay right where he was, he thought stubbornly. “What does this woman know anyway?”
“You need to come down now, it’s time.” she said firmly.
“Time for what?” the leaf said sullenly. “I see no good reason to go. I want to see winter!”
“No leaf can see winter from their tree. It’s just not possible and it’s not the way things go. You need to come down here and be nourishment for the Earth. Leaves have just as big a job when they leave their trees. They fall to the Earth to make her strong and so trees will grow new leaves in the spring. If you see winter it must be from down here.” She said softly.
“Who are you?” asked the leaf. He wondered how this woman knew what happened to the other leaves and why she cared.
“Didn’t you hear the other leaves talking about me before they jumped? I’m Hecate and you really need to come down here to me.”
“Don’t wanna.” The leaf said. “I’m gonna stay right here. I want to see snow and see the animals go to sleep and I want to see it through to spring.”
“Well, you can’t.” And Hecate started to rise up through the air to him until her eyes were level with his branch and she could see him clearly. “I’ve never see such a stubborn, curious little leaf “
She looked at him carefully and she could see him shivering in the breeze. He could feel his anchors letting go. “No! NO NO!” he cried. “I won’t go!
“All leaves go sooner or later. This is later for you. It won’t be so bad. It’s just a new adventure.”
He let go of the branch and floated free. Hecate floated with him. He slowly spun through the air, whirling and turning. He could see he was going farther and farther from his old tree.
“Where, oh where was he going?!” But he saw that Hecate was going with him. Maybe it wasn’t going to be so bad if she went too. He liked her kind brown eyes. They were the same colour as some of the nuts the squirrels collected and he could see the whole wood reflected in them.
“Will you be there with me?” he asked her.
“Always.” She said. “I’m always in the winter wood. I watch over everything and all things and make sure they go at the right time and the right place and I make sure they aren’t alone on their new adventures.”
“Really??” The leaf asked.
“Really!” Hecate replied.
“Then maybe it wouldn’t be so bad after all.” And the leaf floated away on the fall winds with Hecate next to him all the way.