Once again this year like previous ones, I’m fascinated by the furred, freshly unfurled faces of newborn beech leaves. (Click on any of today’s images to see a larger version.

Every year, spring catches me unaware, springing right when I’m distracted by end-of-term concerns. One minute it’s cold and chilly; the next it’s hot and sunny. In the meantime and seemingly overnight, there’s a silent explosion of chlorophyll, bare branches uttering “leaf” over and over with sibilant insistence.

Yesterday while walking the dog at Goose Pond, I couldn’t help but snap photo after photo of this year’s crop of fresh of beech leaves, their baby down and crinkly crevices capturing the morning light. Like faces or fingerprints, beech leaves look alike en masse but unique individually: when you take the time to examine this leaf next to that, you see how infinitely varied they are.

Perhaps leaves are particularly like fingerprints, except a single tree has thousands of them, each unique, rather than a mere ten, roughly the same. Is Nature so wildly creative and downright reckless that she doesn’t care to dash off unique creations by the thousands, each of them destined to last a single season before reverting to Time’s compost?

This morning as I wrote in my journal, each of my green-inked words each looked like a tiny leaf, curved and crinkled. If leaves could talk–if each one were an individual word, or if trees like the hymn had a thousand tongues to sing–what would they say? Would they spur and hurry spring into summer, or would they whisper wait, lest autumn arrive too early?

The Lorax knew that “the trees have no tongues,” so he spoke in their stead; the Lorax knew that “Unless” was the most tragic of words. If you knew to your root that you were destined to live only one summer–if you knew to the end of every expanding cell that your life on earth was focused and finite–what would you say, and with what insistence?

Had I not walked at Goose Pond yesterday, I might have missed the message; had I not scribbled green-inked words in my journal–today’s bouquet of lined leaves–I might have forgotten. Spring is fresh and fleeting, no sooner having sprung but already gravitating toward fall.