Imagine the day is passing slowly and you look out of a window and see the bright blue sky melting into the pale blue of the horizon then disappearing into a horizon of haze. And imagine the feel of tall thick grass on your bare feet and the smell of autumn all around. Now suppose you looked at the old tree that sits in the yard in front of your place, the one you’ve seen a thousand times, the one you’ve never really seen. And for some reason today you see it, you see its very soul. You see the stiff, brittle branches and tired curled leaves of early autumn, the ones yearning to turn into leaves of orange or red or yellow. The ones now longing for color and sleep. The ones tired from the long summer of reaching up and touching the sun and being seared by its heat. Suppose you could feel them longing for the cool days and cold nights of autumn; imagine you can almost hear their begging to be released, to fall softly on the ground and sleep forever in the grass and then disappear in an awful howling wind that belongs to some dark and cold December night.
Imagine it’s just another October, just another one in a lifetime of Octobers all the same and all different and all mostly lost in a life of days all the same and all different. And suppose the tree is just a tree. You realize all at once that that tree has been standing in that same spot since long before you were born and it will be standing there long after you’ve left this Earth and all the blue skies and green fields full of spring grass and all the turmoil and disappointments and snowflakes and beaches in Mexico and on Lake Erie and all those tears and loves and fears and seemingly inconsequential moments that turned into those subtle cornerstones of life, and the careless moments that turned severe and the severe moments that turned careless and all the meaningful and meaningless moments that melted into one another.
Imagine you awake and it’s October and the trees are waiting and the sunshine is warm belying the season. It could fool you if you let your mind wander – you might mistake it for a spring day or a special cool day in June. Yet summer’s cup has been passed into autumn’s cool hand as surely as autumn will be brutally stabbed and mercilessly killed by the silver icy arrows in winter’s quiver that torment the landscape and freeze the hearts of all who have no choice but to endure it sadly and bravely until spring’s soft showers wash winter’s dirty ice from the soul.
It may well be just one October of eighty-five in a lifetime of autumns and springs and summers and winters. Each one is different and each one is the same. Each autumn the trees sleep and the leaves die in a rainbow and then turn dirt-brown and squalid and then, like us, become a dusty cloud blowing away on a cold winter wind.
Imagine you are riding on the wings of the wind and you look down and see the sleeping white towns below. Everyone in their warm houses, fireplace smoke curling up in silent S’s, each person hiding from the cold with their own dreams, and worries, and fears, and pains and sorrows, and hopes and plans. When you’re riding on the winter wind it seems all so easy to understand. You have to smile as you look down and remember how you were one of them. But you know were. You just know it. Now imagine the feeling of being pulled down, tugged gently toward the snow and the houses and the chimneys. You can feel it pulling at you even as you drift far above the snowy towns and cities. You cannot quite put yourself in touch with that feeling and can’t understand it but still you feel it trying to draw you in, draw you back to it, wanting you.
Suppose the tree in your yard, the one you have seen a thousand times, the one you never saw, has turned bright with fire and bursting with yellow and orange and red. Imagine being amazed by a tree has been there so long, the one you’ve seen every day, the one you never saw before.
Imagine you are an autumn leaf clinging reluctantly to a sad drying branch, about to turn yellow or orange or red so you can finally sleep in your sweet bed in the last soft grass of fall. You hang on that branch waiting and wondering how the good the grass will feel and you give not a single thought to what it will be like when you turn into a swirl of dust and sail high on some cold winter wind and then simply disappear.
Imagine the village below, dressed in sparkling snow, dressed somberly in a long blue-purple shadow – belonging to this one winter night. Imagine that shadow covering the dark whiteness with its hollow deepness and you on the wind – dissolving in the night.