One by one, silently they drift or spin lazily in the motionless early morning air toward the browning grass, and I watch spellbound from the window. A leaf from the young nearby oak, another from an elm on the crabgrass strewn fringes of the lawn, yet another from the clefted ash encircled at its feet by ornamental grasses. Back and forth, one by one, the wake of silent plummeting. Such impeccable manners these beautifully dying leaves possess. All summer long they've formed the sprawling canopy, weathered the rough winds, have sipped constantly on the mother tree's life-sustaining waters, but now it's time. Today, for these thousand or so leaves, it's time. There is no choice, no other way.
And as they languidly comply, they float by the embroynic buds of next year's siblings on their mother's lower extremities. Do they protest or scream their inevitability? I have no answer. I hear no sound but an unexpected bout of tapping and turn and peer out of the farthermost window where, almost out of sight, a pair of large, crimson-headed woodpeckers begin punching their sharp beaks into the heart of a soaring sassafrass. All summer long I'd seen the hole grow larger, the mound of golden wood dust at its base rise, but have hitherto not seen these elusive carpenters. Yet here they are in all their piebald and crimson magnificence. Have they guessed at my curiosity and show themselves now to say farewell?
The hollow drumming continues as I turn my attention back to the canopy and watch the leaves depart in their blazing prime, so mannerly, so final, each intrinsic part of the whole permitted a glorious moment in the rays of autumnal sun piercing the wood's dimness.
[technorati: autumn, fall, foliage, bucks county]