Saturday, October 16, 2010


Everything outside is dying; but it’s all expiring so beautifully.

The maple trees are on fire; our dogwood is drooping with a courtly bow; even the bamboo is losing its leaves as if spending coins from a tattered purse. And yesterday, I saw a flattened roadkill squirrel smeared with tattered bark so that it looked like an organic Jackson Pollack painted by a bi-polar Mother Nature.

Why can’t human beings be like this when we pass away? Why can’t I turn a fiery red before I shuffle off my mortal coil? Wouldn’t it be cool if I dropped appendages like leaves in my dying days so that I could fertilize the ground beneath my feet? Wouldn’t it be grand if my final days were marked by the kind of dying brilliance I saw all around me as I rode through sun-splashed streets this afternoon?

I’ve made peace (sort of) with the fact that I’m moving into the autumn of my own life (well, late August, anyway); what I’m not so cool with is the aesthetic part; I wish my not-so-gentle going into that good night didn’t have to be ugly. It’s too late for me to die young and leave a beautiful corpse; I wouldn’t mind, though, if my aged stiff didn’t look like something the cat dragged in.

Part of the thing that makes fall so poignantly beautiful, I think, is that we know the winter that comes after it will be followed by spring, so whatever ugliness that’s in store ahead is tempered by the knowledge that it’s only temporary. When it comes to our own demise, though, we’re aware that the downhill slide never heads back up so it can’t help appearing worse than it really looks.

Additionally, there are all sorts of delights available to us in October, for instance, that aren’t necessarily at hand when we’re heading for the grave: the World Series, Halloween, and, of course, pumpkin beer from the Elysian.


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