“You can’t see the kerb over there!” The man, standing at the bus stop with me, pointed across the street. I glanced over the road. Sure enough the kerb was completely hidden by layers of autumn’s fallen leaves. “Dangerous, that is,” he continued. “Could break your ankle.”
Whatever the season, there are hidden hazards. Life is a risk. My dad, recently departed for a hazard-free life in heaven, used to tell a story against himself of how, on one occasion when lecturing to an august gathering of scientists, he fell up the platform, scattering papers all over the place, as he headed for the podium. On another speaking engagement, he visited the toilet, only to find that his radio mic was still turned on… On woodland walks, he’d warn about tree roots. “Mind the trip wires!” he’d say with a smile.
We can go through life with infinite caution, but there’s no guarantee that hidden hazards – physical or metaphorical – won’t appear and topple us from time to time. Nobody is exempt from sad or bad things happening to them. How do we deal with such happenings? We may cry, or laugh, or say a rude word, or simply put irritating or calamitous happenings down to life experiences: the good, the bad and the ugly that make up the rich mixture of life on earth.
The man at the bus stop negotiated the step onto the bus OK and I trust that he hasn’t succumbed since to the hazard of hidden kerbs. But I hope, too, that while acknowledging the “pesky leaves,” he can also rejoice at the beauty of this colourful season.