It is a glorious November morning, cool, with a crisp bite to the air. Crimson and vermilion and gold leaves etched against a cerulean sky flutter like tattered flags from bare, black branches.
The harvest is in. Fields that held corn and soybeans and cotton are now but corrugated rows of gray and ocher stubble. The last vegetables have been gathered from neat garden rows and are being put up for winter.
The far line of woods is a gray smudge, the bare trunks indistinct in the distance but known for what they are: tall, silent sentinels rising from a carpet of autumn’s reminder of summer’s riotous growth.
Wasp and dirt dauber nests cluster under the eaves, abandoned, the drones and workers dead, starved, willingly sacrificed to the survival of the colony, the newly impregnated queens underground, dormant until spring.
Spring and rebirth are only a promise held in abeyance through the long winter, taken on faith as the rising of the sun. Is it that promise that brings beauty to this annual death? Or is it some deep, unvoiced appreciation of the bounty gathered in? Or is it the wonder of the thing itself, accepted for its contrasts, cool air and warming sun, bare oak trees and luxuriously verdant cedars, crunchy leaves and soft grass?
I hope it is for the thing itself, but I know that buried in the back of my mind, subsumed, dormant like the wasp queen, is the kernel of knowledge that the annual violent eruption of life will roll around, a kernel which will sprout and bloom come springtime.