Learning from Falling Leaves off a Tree


Dear Reader:

It will be quite awhile before the leaves on our trees (in the low country) start falling and if you try to meditate under a tree right now there is a really good chance you will get doused with pine needle sprays and/or pine cones dropping on your head. (Easy to go into character as “Chicken Little…the Sky is falling” mode.)

I must be a slow learner but every year I have to stop and try to remember exactly what causes leaves to fall from the trees…with five grandchildren I need to be ready for those type questions. Every year I try to recall the answer….Is it the wind, change of temperatures from warm to cool/cold, rain or drought? I go blank with the answer.

Actually it is none of the above. Instead we have to go to the children for the answers or more specifically to the Children’s Museums across America whose logo is “Never Stop Asking Why?” * (Parent Tip: Keep a written plaque on a desk or wall so children always see this question in their daily environment.)

Children’s Museum ‘s response is….

The simple answer is this: Leaves fall off trees so that the trees can survive the winter.

But the word “fall” is a bit misleading. It implies that the trees are passive this time of year, when, in fact, they are actively “pushing” the leaves off their branches.

The changes in weather and daylight trigger a hormone that releases a chemical message to each leaf that it is time to prepare for winter. Over the next few weeks, abscission cells form a bumpy line at the place where the leaf stem meets the branch. And slowly, but surely, the leaf is “pushed” from the tree branch.

This winterization process is a must for trees’ survival. In spring and summer, leaves convert sunlight into energy in a process we all know as photosynthesis. During that process, the trees lose a lot of water – so much water that when winter arrives, the trees are no longer able to get enough water to replace it.

And so now we know. Leaves fall—or are pushed—off trees so that the tree can survive the winter and grow new leaves in the spring.

Somehow I think my grandchildren will like the idea of leaves being pushed off more than them simply falling….after all they love pushing…a lot! 🙂

However, later into the fall, it is a good idea to find the perfect tree, a lovely book and read beneath it…if the leaves are falling in all their glory…the day is made more special. We can also learn a lesson from the observation.

*Anne read the post early this morning and it reminded her of a picture she had with a teaching colleague, Alice -ten years they taught together (on the left) and the day they enjoyed meeting this beauty of a tree. We have already planned on stopping to meet several trees’ acquaintances on our adventure.




This is called “The Falling Leaves Meditation”

  • Go find a tall tree with bright colored leaves falling from it. Sit with your back against the tree trunk and close your eyes. The tree knows when it’s time to shed its leaves in preparation for winter. In the same way, as you meditate, prepare to shed away anything you no longer need.
  • As you breathe in the fresh fall air, feel it infiltrate your body and cleansing throughout. Imagine the wisdom of the season whispering into your ears and telling you the things you need to let go. You might need to shed old grievances, clutter from your home, a job you no longer love, or a toxic relationship.
  • As you feel the falling leaves float to the ground around you, drying up with the knowledge that they’re no longer needed, imagine all of the things you no longer need drying up and falling away too. Just as the tree doesn’t mourn its fallen leaves, be joyful that after the dormant phase of winter, new life will crop up for you in the spring.

So until tomorrow…Remember nothing really dies…it just changes form

“Today is my favorite day”  Winnie the Pooh

HAPPINESS IS…Colby’s growth is  benign!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! (Her mom, Donna, heard yesterday morning. I was so happy I started crying happy tears of relief…Colby…now you won’t have to be a “Little c” girl but a “Big B” girl…Benign…Benign…Benign!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

And thank all of you for the ‘Maine Memories’  …you are getting me more and more excited!!!!Beth…I could just envision the spots you found…and Carol…I love that you went to Camden (where Sherry lives) and that it was one of your favorite towns. *Also I love the story of the seal at Bar Harbor… a seal that calls two towns home…“swimming back and forth between them delighting the people in both areas.”  It reminds me of the Dingle dolphin-Fungi!

Every place loves their mascot! Maybe every town should adopt an animal indigenous to it….nature and man should always look for ways to bond during our lifetimes. A great lesson for children!



About Becky Dingle

I was born a Tarheel but ended up a Sandlapper. My grandparents were cotton farmers in Laurens, South Carolina and it was in my grandmother’s house that my love of storytelling began beside an old Franklin stove. When I graduated from Laurens High School, I attended Erskine College (Due West of what?) and would later get my Masters Degree in Education/Social Studies from Charleston Southern. I am presently an adjunct professor/clinical supervisor at CSU and have also taught at the College of Charleston. For 28 years I taught Social Studies through storytelling. My philosophy matched Rudyard Kipling’s quote: “If history were taught in the form of stories, it would never be forgotten.” Today I still spread this message through workshops and presentations throughout the state. The secret of success in teaching social studies is always in the story. I want to keep learning and being surprised by life…it is the greatest teacher. Like Kermit said, “When you’re green you grow, when you’re ripe you rot.”
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2 Responses to Learning from Falling Leaves off a Tree

  1. Arpit says:

    Well written. ‘The falling leaves meditation’ is the part that I liked most.


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