The leaves are already starting to turn in both Newton and Keene, as if the first week of September comes and the chemistry of tree and herb alike immediately changes, switching into shut-down mode. It’s a change that’s been a long time coming, of course–in a sense, all any leaf does with its life is prepare to die, accomplishing as much photosynthesis as it can in the summer sun while somehow sensing in its insentient way that the end is mere months away.
What would you do with your life if you knew you had only three months to live? Leaves spend every ounce of their cellular selves working, toiling at the drudgery of converting air, light, and water into an energy that will outlive them, stored in miserly roots, stems, and fruit. Leaves don’t see this work as drudgery because they don’t see anything at all. Instead of laboring over complaints and resentments, leaves lead the simplest of lives, simply doing their job and then dying without complaint. Not an ounce of energy is wasted fighting or bewailing fate: when the time comes to change, wither, and then fall, leaves simply follow their situation.
Go outside some bright autumn day, or even on a gray moody one, and listen: can you hear it? Can you hear the sound of leaves bemoaning their lot, lamenting the brevity of their days and the pure tedium of their allotted job with all its mindless chemical transpiration? Do you hear the mournful wail of millions as countless leaves succumb to dessication and then die, their anonymous bodies fed as fuel to the fire? No, leaves don’t fight it; leaves don’t fight anything. They are expert in surrender. Leaves recognize the way the wind blows and fall into it, allowing themselves to be carried aloft without care.