Friday, October 28, 2011


I wrote a post about the changing of the seasons in Missouri last October.  After looking at the change from summer to fall and the beauty of it, I feel compelled to write of it once again.

A few years ago I had the luck to be in Boston in the middle of October.  As beautiful as Missouri is during this time of year, the Midwest fall cannot hold a candle to the colorful northeastern United States.  New England was marvelous.  I remember looking out of my hotel room over the tree filled landscape and seeing several different shades of yellow, red, and orange.  It was the most wonderful fall I have ever seen.

Here in Missouri, our fall period lasts most of the month of October.  Leaves have started to fall now, but two weeks ago the trees were full of their leaves as they changed over from green to their various colors.  The slow fall of Missouri gives it a different kind of beauty than the north east.  We have green staying around in a lot of the trees throughout October while other trees are dropping their leaves.

In Missouri, right now, you can see bare trees along with vibrant yellows, reds and oranges plus a splash of green spread out over the canvas of fall.  The silver maple tree in my backyard is a huge tree.  It is one of the largest trees on the block.  Being so tall it takes a little long for it to change color and then drop it's leaves.  When the leaves do change the color morphs into a dull yellow.  This is a little disappointing as I would rather have a tree that had brilliant colors.  Since the tree is so large it is also slow to drop it's leaves.  Usually I still have leaves falling in my back yard at Thanksgiving time.  When the tree does finally loses it's leaves the backyard becomes a crunchy beautiful yellow carpet that my dog can run in and roll around in, bringing into the house as many leaves as he can get to stick to his body.

On the other hand, my neighbor to the south of me has a tree in his front yard that is already nearly bare.  It's leaves turn a dark reddish brown and it is pretty for a little while.  The leaves change too quickly and fall too fast though and soon my front gutter is filled with the dead leaves of his tree.  The leaves on his tree do not retain their reddish brown color once they fall.  They quickly turn into a muddy brown and just lie there waiting to be blown up and down the street by the winds that will be stripping all the other trees in the neighborhood of their leaves.

The house across the street from me has a couple of trees with huge leaves.  They turn color slowly but drop quickly because the leaves are so big and heavy.  The wind catches them fairly easily and you can find these huge yellow leaves mixing in with the smaller leaves of the other trees in the tree community.  The owner of the house gets his riding lawn mower out every week to mulch up the big leaves that cover his yard very quickly as they fall.

The prettiest view of trees is up at the lake.  You can stand on a hill at the lake and look out over hundreds of acres of tree line with a bright beautiful massive lake sitting in the middle of it all.  The colors from up on that hiss are varied much as the trees in New England are.  The difference is that there are not as many different shades of the colors as there are in Boston.  Still it is beautiful and the trees that hold onto their leaves for a longer amount of time hide the trees that have already been stripped bare.  You don't see the symbolic death of the trees from a distance as winter approaches as you do when you walk among the trees.

All that being said, here is how I see Fall.  As so many songwriters and philosophers have done before me, they see the cycle of seasons as a picture of life.  Spring is when every thing is new.  Things grow and come to life.  Summer is when nature shows itself in full bloom and stature.  Everything is stable, everything is green and everything slows down growing just a bit before fall.  Fall is the final cheer for life.  Fall is when nature come to a realization of how wonderful and beautiful it is.  It last but a short time and for a few weeks nature is at it's grandest.  Then of course, just when we realize how grand a life can be, whether it be a tree, or grass, or a human being, winter come crawling in slowly.  It slowing turns everything cold and strips the trees of their wonder.  The grass goes dormant, the winds turn from crisp to cold.  The life bearing rain turns into ice and snow, freezing and killing whatever it lands upon.  Winter brings death.

Most people will not admit to being in the winter of their lives.  We look around and see the children in the spring of their lives.  We watch as young adults become a productive part of society and we can see them as being in the summer of their lives.  Then as we age we slowly admit that yes, we are in the fall of our lives.  We are at our best.  We have grown wise as we grew through the summer of our own lives and now we are in the fall.  It is the time to shine and let everyone see what kind of a person you turned out to be.  We hold onto the fall of our lives for as long as we can.

No one wants to admit that they are in the winter of their lives.  Saying you are in the winter of your live says that you are prepared to die.  You say that you have lived a complete life and now it is time to step out of the way and out of the picture.  Who is to say when the fall of life ends and the winter begins anyway?  If you live to be 98, then at the age of 80 you very well could be getting towards the end of the fall of your life, but still be in the fall without taking that fatal step into winter.  If you die at 55 however, then it was a very short fall and you were in the winter of your life without even knowing it.

I don't want to be a tree that tries to stay in the fall of life as long as possible, struggling to hold onto my leaves to prove I still have some worth to the world.  I am ready to admit that I am on the cusp of the winter of my life.  I am getting close to retirement age.  My body is slowing down.  I can not do things that I could do a mere ten years ago.  I don't have the strength or the will to do a lot of those things.  I am wearing out and I can recognize it.  That isn't to say that a lot of people my age are not just beginning the Fall of their lives and have a lot to contribute and to attain.

 I don't see my life that way.  I don't see my body or my brain that way.  Fall is slipping from me and Within a short period of time, I imagine I will be taking that step into the winter of my life.  How long will winter last for me?  I can't answer that just as we can't answer how long others will be in the Fall of their lives.  Everything and everyone is different.  The tree in my neighbors yard has already gone through fall, entered winter and is on the verge of shutting down while the tree in my yard has several weeks of fall left in it before it finally succumbs to winter sometime in mid December.

I had a good spring.  I had a fairly good summer.  I had a good fall until it started to weaken.  Hopefully I will have a long and good winter.

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