It’s officially the first full day of Autumn. The Autumnal Equinox, the exact moment at which the sun’s position passed the equator, occurred yesterday at 9:29 PM, local time. I’m sure I felt a chill go down my spine right about then. I don’t love Autumn.
No. The name of the season is Fall.
We call it that for obvious reasons. The gorgeous covering which the Creator has provided for all things alive and growing suddenly recognizes the signs that time is getting on. With not a hint of embarrassment–without even the politest pardon me–the leaves clothing the entirety of nature will soon be shed, leaving the trees and ground bereft of cover.
The nakedness of the trees aside, I have other reasons for disparaging the season. The chill is already in the air. The trees know it, in spite of the fact that temperatures have hardly dipped into the sixties. The wind blew through a week ago, with just enough of the northern bluster behind it to tempt a few leaves to surrender without a struggle.
Cowards! I look out the window and see most of the trees still covered in green, but I know, from many years of experience, that will change very soon. Little by little, word will sift through the arboreal world that the battle is already lost. Much of the foliage will simply alter from green to brown and let loose of the branches to which they have clung tightly for half a year.
Granted, there are a good few of the leaves which will put up a fight, clinging stubbornly to their posts. But soon, the forces of change will begin to withdraw their life support, little by little drawing away the sap which supplies their energy and vitality.
They will not surrender easily. No, they will hold on tightly, feeling the green fade, replaced by yellows and oranges, perhaps even a purple or red.
They will be glorious in their defeat, but they will be defeated.
By the thousands, humans will take to the highways and back roads to exclaim about and photograph their death.
I hear them exclaim already. It doesn’t matter.
It will end badly.
It always does. Every year.
Fall. The Fall of the Leaves. Almost like the Fall of Rome–or the Bastille–or the Alamo.
Ah. But, I grow cynical, don’t I?
It’s only fall.
It happens every year, only to be followed by winter. Which, in its turn, will be followed by spring and summer. I know that. My brain does, anyway. The promise of God is that seedtime and harvest, summer and winter, will continue as long as the earth endures.
I have seen the desolation which is to come. The glorious splendor of the trees’ defeat still turns to darkest winter.
I do not love winter, either. The cold cuts right through me. The darkness…but, I’m borrowing trouble, aren’t I? Winter will come. When I have to go out, I will dress for it. When I can, I will stay in where it is warm.
I will sit beside the fire and wait. And wait.
And wait. For what comes next.
For what comes next!
You see, today I know the sinking feeling of certainty–certainty that fall is coming with winter following.
But, I also know the certainty, the joyous assurance that spring will come again.
I wonder. Do the trees know that too?
As I sit and consider, I suddenly remember that the leaves aren’t the tree. When they die, the tree yet lives. Fall isn’t surrender, but simply preparation for next spring. Our Creator, in His wisdom, designed it to be so. Half a year of glorious life, a few weeks of glorious splendor, a few more of rest, and then…
Rebirth! New life!
The reader will, no doubt, by now be aware that the images drawn on this page, the picture of ebbing life and sleep, as well as the new life which follows cannot be contained in the physical description of the earth’s seasons only.
It seems that I have more to think about tonight.
Perhaps, I’m not the only one.
I may even need to plan a day trip through the hillsides and valleys nearby in a few weeks.
There may be something worth looking at soon.
This old world keeps turning.
“You expected to be sad in the fall. Part of you died each year when the leaves fell from the trees and their branches were bare against the wind and cold, wintery light. But you knew there would always be the spring, as you knew the river would flow again after it was frozen.”
(from “A Moveable Feast” by Ernest Hemingway ~ American author ~ 1899-1961)
“For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven: a time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted…”
(Ecclesiastes 3: 1,2 ~ ESV)
© Paul Phillips. He’s Taken Leave. 2014. All Rights Reserved.
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