Falling Art

The weather is colder now, the wind is up, and I know exactly where to find my WinterTrax cleats when the ice comes. I am afraid of falling. Yet there is an art to a soft tumble, as AARP tells us older folks. The safest route is to keep falling. The more we give in to the fall, the kinder it will be. Maybe that is one reason why autumn draws me, not only because of the color, but because in this season I am surrounded by lessons on fall.

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Leaves stay vibrant in oranges and reds on the branches, but they drift down in those colors as well. The grass becomes Nature’s wedding bed and the leaves like rose petals. Not the fragrance of passion and beginnings, but the deep, earthy scent of loss and endings. They slip beneath my feet and become their own nest in which children scamper and dogs romp.

Above, leaves turn color, transforming themselves into gold, holding fast against wind and rain. No question that a leaf- by-leaf tumble is still ahead. Even the squirrels take advantage. They nibble at maple seeds, like this little guy eating hungrily on the tree outside my window. Such a busy fellow, such a voracious appetite, such an eager helper for autumn’s falling season.

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A small cluster of leaves reminds me of O. Henry’s short story “The Last Leaf.” True to his gift for paradox, the author writes of  a young artist, sick with pneumonia, who knows that when the last leaf on the vine outside her window falls, she will die. But she is tricked into health because an old artist, laboring in the cold, paints a likeness on the brick. The young one lives, the old one dies. The story ends with these lines: “Didn’t you wonder why it never fluttered or moved when the wind blew? Ah, darling, he painted it there the night that the last leaf fell.”

Now this is a story that demands a willing suspension of disbelief.

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No artist’s final masterpiece can replicate autumn’s glory or keep leaves fixed to the maple outside my bedroom window. No paradox from literature can deny the barrenness and decay that follow autumn’s initial brilliant spectacle. What then is left for me? Thank the workers with leaf blowers who did not come. Practice daily the art of the soft, inevitable fall.

6 thoughts on “Falling Art

  1. Gorgeous photos, elegant, heartfelt writing, musings close to my heart. And O. Henry! I’m grateful to you!
    Fall is my favorite season, though each has its own attractions in the larger cycle.
    Next is sculptural winter, with its stark beauty, perils and promise.

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    1. Thank you, Shirley, for your words. Yes, Winter is sculptural. What a gorgeous description of the season as perils and promise. I jotted down your words in my journal. Happy Thanksgiving to you and your loved ones.

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  2. Absolutely beautiful writing and colorful images! Every descriptive word is spot on conjuring up images of current and past autumns. I was not aware of O.Henry’s short story,”The Last Leaf.” Your short summary brought tears to my eyes. I will definitely find the story and read it! Thank you!

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  3. Oh, so glad that you, too, remember past autumns as a time of images. And this tale of O.Henry truly is a lovely story. He captures the power of paradox by always leaving the reader with hope. Advent, here we come! Love, Happy Thanksgiving.

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  4. Pat, always such thoughtful comments. Thank you. I’ll be thinking of you this Thanksgiving. Happy Hope throughout this coming year.

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