The bright, gold poplar leaf made seven lazy circles on its way from treetop to my puddle-filled driveway.

The bright, gold poplar leaf made seven lazy circles on its way from treetop to my puddle-filled driveway.

I know this because I halted my mad rush to the newsroom Thursday morning to watch.

For a full 10 seconds, I counted the spirals in this little tree-kite's descent.

"Hurry up! Hurry up! No time for this nonsense! You're late!" my inner parent scolded.

Unfazed and unrepentant, my wiser inner child refused to be rushed from her reverie. She watched the golden leaf pirouette amid bright blue skies and puffy white clouds with a big smile on her face. Mesmerized by one magical leaf.

Time is a commodity, they say. Once spent, it can never be reclaimed. I'm not so sure that's true. Maybe time is more fluid — and forgiving — than we think.

At any rate, no one can convince me it wasn't 10 seconds well-spent. Watching leaves fall is the autumnal equivalent to stopping and smelling the roses. Which, as we all know, is very good for the soul. I'm betting it's also very good for this particular one's ever-bouncing blood pressure.

Once I arrived at the Mail Tribune, my gray boots crunched their way over fallen chestnuts that are currently carpeting the parking lot. The fat, shiny, brown nuts are nestled amidst and around piles of red, yellow and orange leaves.

I stopped again at the edge of the parking lot and looked up into the canopy of one of the chestnut trees. A small world of leaves smiled back as I snapped a photo of their colorful display.

I soon shared that image with friends. Some of whom, I noticed, have since shared it with their friends.

Another series of 10-second appreciation meditations drifting across time and space. What will their energy bring back?

Later that day I met for lunch with a new friend. Like two floating leaves, she and I have drifted in our own circles across this valley for a few years now. Sometimes we've even wafted across each other's path. On those occasions we've shared very few words. Just a few smiles, and some knowing nods. Sometimes you just recognize a kindred spirit.

On the day the little leaf drifted down from the sky, she and I cut ourselves free to spiral like leaves for an hour or so over lunch.

Sometimes you have to quiet that parental voice, trust the child, and take more than 10 seconds to drift and swirl. And that's OK, too. After all, wasn't it our time spent on the playground where we sifted and sorted important life lessons? Who played fair. Who didn't. And how that made us feel.

She and I spoke of our work. And of our lives.

Life's gusts can blow even the sturdiest leaf off course. Haven't we all endured long nights when the thunder crashed and the lightning flashed?

The good news is even the harshest storm eventually passes. And, sooner or later, the gentle zephyrs return.

Ten seconds on a Thursday morning. And the image of that single dancing leaf stayed with me throughout the day. And the next. It still abides.

Reach reporter Sanne Specht at 541-776-4497 or email