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A splendid torch

Ent in Early Fall.JPGBehold Rootbeard the Ent, our towering guardian and silver maple, in the first flush of color change! The curtain of green he provides across the facade of the CrazyStable will change to a scrim of yellow, and in the brief afternoon hours, the sun from the west will pour through it into the front rooms, bathing everything in gold.

Melancholy is never far away this time of year--and not just because we must contemplate raking Rootbeard's shed mantle into big black bags. (About a dozen bags, and that's after about 60% of the foliage blows down the street to our lucky neighbors.) The Catholic Church devotes November (with canny pagan calendar-logic) to remembrance of the dead, and just about everyone I've loved and lost has conveniently managed to expire between September and New Year's, with November and December chock-a-block with somber anniversaries .  Add to this my history of robust "seasonal affective disorder" (c'mon, surely they made up that term just to produce the acronym "SAD"), and the fall-to-Christmas stretch is rather daunting.

When I am drawn to mope, overeat, and hibernate (my time-honored adaptations), two things often prove restorative. One is, curiously, an insight from a botany class at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden about the mechanism by which leaves change color. The chlorophyll fades away, and the glorious russets and golds and reds turn out to have been there all along. They don't "change"; the colors are simply revealed, as the leaf shuts down its natural life cycle as a food factory for the tree.  I fancy the idea that as my Verdant Youth wanes, it will unmask all sorts of colors , perhaps more intriguing and flamboyant ones, that were waiting for life's autumn to display themselves (but not, please God, that red-and-purple-hat business).

The other tonic for morbid autumnal musings is this gust of bright wintry wind from GBS, which works for me more consistently than Prozac:

This is the true joy in life, the being used for a purpose recognized by yourself as a mighty one; the being a force of nature instead of a feverish, selfish little clod of ailments and grievances complaining that the world will not devote itself to making you happy.

I am of the opinion that my life belongs to the whole community, and as long as I live it is my privilege to do for it whatever I can.

I want to be thoroughly used up when I die, for the harder I work the more I live. I rejoice in life for its own sake. Life is no "brief candle" to me. It is a sort of splendid torch which I have got hold of for the moment, and I want to make it burn as brightly as possible before handing it on to future generations.

--George Bernard Shaw, from Man and Superman, dedicatory letter 

Posted on Monday, November 14, 2005 at 09:22AM by Registered CommenterBrenda from Brooklyn | CommentsPost a Comment

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