Monday, October 19, 2009

See Maples And Die

Samuel de Champlain is said to have named Vermont, Les Monts Verts, the Green Mountains. Apparently he didn’t arrive in October. The entire region including Massachusetts and New Hampshire is ablaze from ruddy to amber with increments of orange between. Nothing like the terrible fires in our foothills but the thought of beauty and terror in a "ferocious tango" came to mind.

Maple, birch and sycamore start losing their chlorophyll in late summer and the carotenoid is unmasked. It ain’t over till the diva sings and so she does in full regalia as the curtain goes down. How paradoxical that they are most spectacular in their demise.

I witnessed the human corollary as my step-daughter found her full humanity during her recent ordeal with cancer. We are most revealed and most fully realized in our relinquishing. When we face mortality we take on a new dimension. We feel free to drop our pretensions, our posturing and the defenses we thought, even unconsciously, we once needed.

One need not literally die but something in us may be ready to retreat or submit. My mother spent her active days in daily combat with the marketplace, suspicious of being cheated, her antennae on the alert for danger. In her declining years she mellowed an enormous inch or two. She was at her best in her foliage.

A mnemonic I never forgot for the spectrum came from my high school physics teacher. Residents of Yorkville Guzzle Beer in Vats. Red, Orange, Yellow, Green, Blue, Indigo, Violet. Now I am in my Residents Of Yorkville stage of life or even beyond. Our ten days in Vermont gave me pause to reflect on what old ways serve me no more, what singing leaves are ready to fall.

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