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Esquimalt woman inspired by positive potential of wet leaves on the sidewalk

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ESQUIMALT, B.C. -

To appreciate why Sky Richarde is pausing under a Garry oak tree to take a picture of a wet leaf, we need to go back to when she grew up in Kauai.

“I didn’t have a comprehension of the seasons then,” Sky says, adding that temperatures in Hawaii didn’t fluctuate through the year. “But I did understood holidays, like Christmas is coming.”

Sky was unfamiliar with “The Fall” until her family moved to Michigan.

“And it was the worst thing ever in my five year old mind,” Sky smiles. “Now I have to wear shoes going outside.”

But Sky was eventually delighted to discover that when the temperature dropped, the leaves on the trees burst with colour.

Sky recalls the autumn sun shining through the fiery foliage.

“It’s kind of like going into a cathedral and seeing stained glass.”

Autumn was awesome. Especially after raking leaves and jumping into the pile of positivity.

“I can’t think of a more magical experience,” Sky says.

Which is why, when they moved to Lake Tahoe, Nevada, and Sky saw her new home was surrounded by pine trees, the then 10-year-old was disappointed to discover the changing season featured constant colour.

“It took me awhile to start appreciating the beauty of the mountains,” Sky says.

But she did. Like she’s doing now, after moving to Canada’s west coast, and experiencing its often grey, and always green weather.

Sky is also learning to appreciate her first urban home.

“I’ve never lived in a city before,” Sky says. “We didn’t have sidewalks.”

And Sky has found that rainy pavement can provide the perfect canvas for trees to “paint” on. When their leaves fall and get wet, the pigment in them leaves a leaf-shaped image on the sidewalk.

“When you see something new like this, you go back to being a six-year-old who’s discovering the world for the first time,” Sky smiles. “And it’s just like, ‘Oh my gosh! This is so exciting!’”

Now Sky regularly stops to photograph the “leaf stamps” displayed on the sidewalks after the rain.

Whether fall includes sunning herself by the surf in Kauai, or covering herself with piles of colour in Michigan, Sky has learned that being on the lookout for beauty, and taking a moment to appreciate it, can inspire perennial positivity.

“We’re constantly bombarded by negative things (in the news),” Sky says. “I like the idea of making your own headlines, like ‘(Woman) Walking Down Street Finds Perfect Garry Oak Leaf Stamp!’” 

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