Saturday, November 11, 2017
The green tree
So many wonderful things happen to the world in Autumn that I forget about them. This allows for the pleasure of surprise and rediscovery. I can only hope I forget it all again.
Around here strange, late flowers bloom. Leaves twist in their hearts and distort into wild colors. The moon grows moody and soon night is everywhere. Snow falls and cold mornings curdle exhausted foliage. Slowly all the color begins to leach out of everything. Winter is coming.
And so here we are. For us this is late fall, and each tattered remnant of fall is a pleasure to me. Soon all will be white and desolation, howling winds and picturesque Christmas lights. We, meaning me and the Natural World, prepare for this by killing everything, wiping the slate clean. I walk through my neighborhood over leaves broken to dust and slime. Old pumpkins, torn apart by squirrels and rot, are scattered bleached on the doorsteps of houses. All the ever greens, livid oranges, and freaky burgandies have somehow, still recognizable, faded to some kind of gray. I think "Well, it is all over."
And then I see the green tree.
I don't know if it happens every year. I don't know what kind of tree it is. I don't even understand it. I suppose it would be easy enough to miss because it all happens in one singular day tucked inconspicuously into November. A great classic tree somehow dodges all of Autumn. Its leaves are wide and opulent on a mighty tree with a grand spread. And while all around them the leaves of other trees go lurid, burning up in death and pouring to the ground, this tree's leaves sit quietly unnoticed, olive colored and invisible, thick and heavy as if nothing has changed and nothing ever will.
And then, in a matter of hours, they all fall. Brilliant green they thickly carpet the ground. And in a world fast growing colorless, these are an illumination, a wonder. It's like summer bursting out in one wildly late and glorious gasp. Green, green, everywhere green, burying death itself.
And I suppose that's exactly what it is. Summer, in one last, mad, showy triumph, says goodbye. The leaves dry up in the night, and then it's Winter instead.