Red Oaks on the sunrise side of our house are losing their struggle against a stiff north wind, the elms having given up the fight a few weeks ago. Kimberly Queens are nestled warmly in the greenhouse next to Foxtail and Bird’s Nest Ferns, grape vines, and roses, gladly taking refuge from freezing temperatures. Tree fatigue is everywhere; leaves fall like amber, orange and purple snow. My least favorite tree makes the biggest soiree of it, and to this day I can’t imagine why the Creator dreamed up Sweet Gums, replete with prickly balls that somehow always find their way beneath my feet. Fall foliage is its one almost-redeeming attribute.
There is something oddly warming about this chilly transition. Leaves die but do not call attention to the dying. Autumn brushes them beautiful before winter robs everything of pigment, leaving me with hope for the same before my own demise. The time is too fast approaching when color will fade in more than my hair and I become brittle and broken; until then allow me the splendor of this moment. Permit me the realization of wishes, the scratching off of bucket lists, the jubilance of self-expression, the consolation of completion. Color my own transition to winter beautiful, not for the sake of attracting admirers but for the fame of God’s renown. Dylan Thomas misunderstood seasons: go gentle into that good night, and never rage against the dying of the light. Ours is to reflect to the end the grace that makes each moment a beginning.
“It is a fierce game I have joined because it is being played anyway, a game of both skill and chance, played against an unseen adversary–the conditions of time–in which the payoffs, which may suddenly arrive in a blast of light at any moment, might as well come to me as anyone else. I stake the time I’m grateful to have, the energies I’m glad to direct. (Annie Dillard, “Pilgrim at Tinker Creek”)
“To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven: A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted; A time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up;” (Ecclesiastes 3:1-3, KJV)