A bench at the park

I found this picture of Oxford Botanic Garden, and I wanted to climb into it and sit down and breathe in and out and listen. It's autumn. And in autumn, not in the spring when the sprouts poke their heads out and the life cycle goes new and green, but in autumn, when the world feel like scrapings and picked-clean vines - in autumn I can feel my foundations again. It is in autumn that I check for cracks. Once the trees are bare we can see their skeletons again. And they will soon be bare when they start to change color and drop their clothes in a scented, dissolving layer on the ground. And so, in autumn, when it begins to look like this scene at Oxford, I begin again.

It is the fall of the year. The year falls. The old year is falling. The full flower of the thing is waning and the real growth will be out where we can all see it. How interesting that we have Halloween masks at the time of the year when things are being unmasked. Perhaps we, in the northern hemisphere, where the close of the year brings more darkness, perhaps we feel a need for masks precisely because it is the season of unmasking. We feel bare because the unseen comes very near to us in fall and winter when the seen fades away. We feel a need to hide. Perhaps.

I feel a need to hide, anyway. I could hide in plain site - there - on a park bench, while the leaves of the year begin to drop to the ground around me. No one with human eyes would be able to see the leaves of my year drop to the ground inside me, and my examination of the foundations and skeleton and summer's growth would not be something others would watch.

But sitting on a park bench in the absence of conversation, I would be able to hear this dropping of the leaves, and I would be able to feel again, this year, that all of it mattered. Every growth ring and new branch matters. The trees are not what they were last fall, even as they are the same. And I am not what I was last fall. The leaves are beginning to drop - I can smell them - and I do love that scent - and I can turn and look, and I can see. The season for seeing is here.

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