Free Falling


The reluctant deluge has just begun and is beautifully transforming in its own unique way.
  • I am as fickle as the next person.  On any given day I can happily accept the weather or fretfully resist.  My mood varies by season and by my interpretation of season.
  • For example, spring can be long and dreary and endless, promise with no fulfillment.  Or it can be a time of wonderful surprise as hidden things grow and blossom.  Summer hot and sticky and stultifying or a fantastic feast of senses.  And fall _ well October always seems a month of sadness, encapsulating all that is going away and being lost, expanding beyond the yard, the horizon, the skies themselves until it encompasses aging itself.
  • But now _ well for me that has passed.  As nights chill down to frost and days struggle to retain memory of heat, I discover new purpose.  Fortify against the coming winter.  Enjoy nature closing the show, as I would the deconstruction of a traveling tent circus.  Make plans for dark evenings and fireside meditation.  Await the first snow with expectation, and get into the spirit of our over-the-top end of year festivities.
  • I admit I am inconstant beyond measure or logic.


Bittersweet fruit at peak of perfection, a cheery holiday accent and presumed delicacy for birds.
  • Raking leaves when I was employed was a tremendous chore, squeezed into weekend hours between other errands.  I used a rake and enjoyed the silence and felt virtuous at engaging in outside exercise.  These days, there is no silence, I have all the time necessary, and I have acquired a strong (electric) leaf blower like everyone else.
  • Maple leaves fall first, thickly matting whenever harsh November rains pelt down.  If not removed, they kill grass and smother flower beds, drying their top layers each week for months just enough to continue to blow everywhere.  Heavy, ugly, dark, and somehow never decaying the way garden guidebooks proclaim.
  • Next are the hickories, which are a totally different prospect.  These compound leaves remain together, stay dry, cling to everything.  Without much weight, their volume fills bag after bag.  They hang on shrub branches and if not removed by hand will flap there all winter, looking out of place, annoying by their refusal to move on.  Sometimes, I know by experience, they will last another entire season.  So they are not just to be raked, but also to be plucked from shrubs by hand.
  • Oh well.  Two or three weeks of effort and it is all literally in the bag for another year.


The brown tide of freezing nights coats everything with a temporary dark varnish like that once applied to old-master paintings.
  • It is inevitable that each leaf must fall.
  • It is impossible _ from math, science, common sense _ to predict exactly when.


Lovely earth hues frame much of the earth, sea and sky this week.
  • The relative warmth this year has led to procrastination in winterizing.  I found it almost silly to be bringing hoses in, draining and turning off outside water, cleaning summer objects from the patio.  The air was warm, the sun hot, the leaves still green.  Why not wait just another day, until the clues from the environment matched up with the notes from the calendar?
  • But with a lifetime of experience, I stayed with the planned schedule.  I admit I feel a bit smug now that frost has arrived.  Not so much compared to other people _ they can do as they will with no concern from me _ but compared to the myself-that-might-have-been.  I can now sit back and warmly laugh at what might have been a nasty business.


Fat and settled in for the winter, ducks calmly cruise across a shallow pond.
  • My sky is opening up.  Each morning I sit for an hour before a picture window as I nurse my coffee and coax my mind back to full focus.  My view is constrained by an azalea bush below, an andromeda along the side _ both stay green all year.  No mountains, seas, or city skyline for me _ just a nearby japanese maple tree, and dense huge hickories and oaks beyond that.
  • All summer, there are mere glimpses of sky.  In October the color show begins on various leaves.  And finally, through November, light breaks through as leaves fall.  Already I there is more openness.  Soon there will be clouds, birdflight, and full beams shining through branches.  I will be able to view weather as it arrives, and note each snowflake as it falls.
  • Elsewhen perhaps I would have wished a more dramatic view of surf or hi
    gh peaks or towering buildings.  But now I am more than content with what is offered and I strive to each day find it miraculous in its own way.  As is each sip of coffee that I savor.


Shriveling willow streamers blow almost horizontal in a blustery north gale.
Our grandson toddler is wheeled around Hecksher Park, where the leaves are all gold and orange, the geese flock is thick, and the turtles have already gone into hibernation.  He wants to talk, perhaps he imagines he is talking, but all that emerges are moans and babble.  We talk back anyway.
“errrrrrr.  Baw bye brrr.”
“That’s right, Nicholas, see how pretty the trees are.”
“flabbb  bbbk  hmmmmm”
“Yes, there are a lot of geese this year.”
“heaaaa heaaaa bllllk.”
“We know you really like puppies.  That’s a cute one, isn’t it?”
“Arrk arrk bye maa maaan.”
“Little kids are indeed exciting.”

I kick up a few more leaves swirling around my feet as the November winds rush by.


Part of a large flock of ducks/geese rides out a strong wind; most will probably move on soon.
A single leaf.
Months old, billions of cells.
Molecules frantically churning light into sugars, water delivered, food produced.
A massively profound miracle.

Life goes on.

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