CHAPTER ONE begins . . .
It was mid-September and the leaves had begun to
turn. A few had already fallen to the ground. Looking
up, all thirty-two-year-old Leanne Porter could see
was a mosaic of gold, red, and stubborn chlorophyll green.
Ever since she had been a little girl, she had loved autumn
and welcomed the falling leaves that formed a crunchy
carpet through which to shuffle. There was something so
restful about meandering along, allowing the best clumps
of leaves to be her guide.
But as she grew up, Leanne felt a little guilty for the
childhood pleasure she’d kept into adulthood. How was it
right to look forward to the end of life for all those leaves?
Why did she feel joy after they had died?
Then she realized, it wasn’t joy that she felt, but peace.
Life was not ending. It was simply carrying on, albeit in
Since that realization, Leanne had allowed herself to
fully enjoy the seasons, trying not to think too hard about
what each passing one meant. She may not have been as
time limited as a leaf, but each year lived was still another
She had lost her parents some years earlier, a few years
apart. There was nothing like that to drive home the point
that all life was too leaf-like.
And while she had been close to them both, Leanne
had always been more of a loner. She’d felt isolated from
those around her, as if everyone knew some grand secret
they were keeping from her.
While she wasn’t exactly awkward or ill-equipped to
deal with people, doing so never felt the most natural to
her. Given the choice, she usually preferred to be by herself.
Sometimes that meant the company of books or TV,
and other times, a thoughtful shuffle through the leaves
as her mind wandered along with her feet.
Understanding her daughter’s big need for privacy and
solitude, her mother, Maggie, had once suggested Leanne
keep a diary. That way, she’d still have an outlet to express
her deepest, innermost thoughts. But after a month or so
of near-daily entries, the diary was cast aside.
“It’s too much like work,” Leanne had said at the time.
Having to try to remember the high or low points at the
end of each day began to feel like a chore. So what if years
down the road it might be fun to read what she did or felt
in the past? She’d resent writing it down now.
But Leanne definitely liked to analyze all her feelings.
That became yet another way she felt disconnected from
other people who seemed content to let things lie without
so much questioning. Perhaps she was wrong in ascribing
that to strangers, but it was how her insides looked to her
compared to other people’s outsides.
And as for documenting the interior view of herself
with that diary? Her inward analysis concluded it was like
stopping an enjoyable moment to take a photograph, instead
of just living it. She discovered she’d rather remember
something than capture it. But in trying to be fair and
honest with herself, and always doing a complete analysis
whenever possible, she did allow for one contributing
factor for her diary distaste—laziness.
And today, that attribute had led Leanne to set aside
work for the day. One of the big advantages of working
from home was that she could determine her own hours.
As long as she got her clients’ bookkeeping done, they
didn’t much care whether she did it at noon or midnight.
Leanne liked the balance that seemed to give her. No two
days ever had exactly the same schedule, even if the work
itself was on the repetitive side.
When she woke that morning, the world outside had
beckoned. The first big leaf drop of the year was waiting
for her. Unbeknownst to her, that’s not all she would find
as she strolled through Jonathan Park.
Across town was Jay Hanson, a doctor, who, with some
settlement money, had just recently retired to Clementine.
The slower pace of his new West Coast locale suited him
better than big cities ever had. When circumstances led
to his premature retirement, he moved his thirty-six-year-old
self to the kind of quaint place he’d always imagined.
Although he’d only practised medicine a short while, he
was weary and more than ready for a calmer existence.
Jay’s mother and father were supportive in their own
far-off way, literally. As soon as their only child had gone
away to university, they had set off for their own adventures.
At eighteen, Jay had lost his family along with his
family home, or so he felt.
His parents were in Europe now. Presently in which
country? He wasn’t sure. The odd letter, or the even rarer
phone call, was the only way he knew it was time to update
his address book again. But he had happy memories
of his childhood. They had been a close family then.
So Jay focused on those times when he felt lonesome for
He had some good friends, but most of them had married
and started families, or were at least seriously thinking
about it. Jay didn’t fit into that reality anymore. And
so he found himself looking forward to the peace and
quiet of Clementine, his new home town. This was his
Wanting to get better acquainted with the little burg,
Jay had spent the better part of the day on his bike. The
people were friendly enough, offering directions as he
explored and periodically got lost or, as he preferred to
think of it, when he got a mite confused, to paraphrase
Although he appreciated their kindness and the warm
welcome he received when they learned he was new to
the town, it wasn’t the people he most craved. He was in
Clementine to more feel like a part of the place itself. It
could have been anywhere really, as long as it was filled
with trees and mountains, and was near the shore. Yes, it
definitely had to be near some water. He’d already spent
too much time sequestered in concrete skyscrapers, away
from the earth and its oceans.
As Jay rounded the next corner, there was Jonathan
Park. It was the perfect blend of wooded trails and wide-open
spaces. He could see the Pacific Ocean not far off
in the distance. Eager to explore and feel his feet on the
ground, he dismounted and locked his bicycle to a nearby
tree. He didn’t want to be suspicious of his new neighbours,
but old city habits died hard.
Setting off down a secluded trail, he was looking all
about. His eyes were everywhere except in front of him.
That’s when it happened. That’s when he met her. Well,
bumped into, and nearly knocked down, one rather startled
Trade Paperback: 318 pages
Publisher: Barbauld Publishing
Product Dimensions: 8 x 5.2 x 0.7 inches