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AUTUMN OF LIFE
“When summer turns to winter and the autumn disappears,” are age-old lyrics may conjure Baby Boomer thoughts of graduation and farewell to friends. Although I rarely think of this tune, the words went off like firecrackers on New Year’s Eve during a brisk morning walk on a recent visit to my Midwestern roots.
The color changes of maples and oaks, not a part of our relocated southwestern living, roused all of those latent, but familiar, senses with more than a mix of déjà vu. The generational lifecycle that never occurred to me in my twenties clearly stretched into the blue skies on that fall morning a generation later.
Missing was the scorched, earthen scent of burning leaves, so much a part of younger days with a blazing fireplace and chestnuts in the oven. The smells that filled my nostrils only reflected the nipping, brisk air of late fall, forewarning a pending frost to bring more color changes to the flourishing giants.
It was Saturday, and neighbors had the routine in place, including the piles of fallen and raked leaves.
Although a little more mechanized with power blowers, kids still tugged and scratched metal rakes snatching the edge of the sidewalks as piles of wilted color and crumbled brown foliage filled the curbside.
The gleeful art of leaf-pile-leaping would soon tempt the youthful workers. A reward for labor, unless a swish of wind would whip up and blow the burnt orange leaves back to the lawns and streets.
The dampened life that clung in anticipation of the mac truck jaws that would haul the piles away on Monday morning lay in wake. Clean. Neat. Not so unlike the autumn of our lives with beauty flourishing and fading. Yet among the brightly colored foliage stood the bare, solid structure underpinning the beauty. The strength of the trunk, the branches and the span of naked reach was equally as beautiful. It was the solid structure of support. Clean. Neat. Substantial.
The memory of the beauty that once was unleashed a greater structure.