Words to remember

"Never doubt in the darkness what you believed in the light."

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Fall Foliage

Thus far, the progress of the fall foliage is slightly worrisome. According to the Weather Channel website (voici), most of New York State is already at its peak, or very near to it. However, I can't imagine that this is the case here in Geneseo. Several of the younger maples have turned spectacular reds, and the black walnuts are just beginning to yellow. The ancient and venerable white oaks about campus and the arboretum are, so far as I know, still quite green, as are most of the older trees about town. Hopefully, the leaves will change before the weather gets too cold, and frost and snow take them off the trees before their colors have had a chance to announce their presence. And of course the same problem gives rise to the possibility of tree branches snapping with the added weight of snow held by leaves which haven't fallen.

The change of seasons is an important event, not only in all that it involves with respect to agriculture and the harvest (a phenomenon of which the modern mind is curiously, and almost totally ignorant), but for the soul of man as well. The cycle is important to the way we live and think. But the variation is important, too. The autumn cools summer's heat, and gives a freshness to the languorous monotony of late summer. The colors shift from deep and bright greens to gold and red and orange: from growth, youth, and strength, to regality, season, and dignity. And even this in time changes. That royal splendor of the autumn fades, as all things must. Age grants it a hoary wisdom, a grey quality which we too often associate with sadness and moroseness. This is an error. For there is a stark, timeless beauty to even the naked trees, shorn of their raiment but still robed in dignity and made wiser by silence. And after this has passed, all is robed in white. This is seen as a time of slumber and hibernation, of great dormancy and repose. And this is true; but the additional symbolism of deep white need not be discussed. And the deep winter is possessed of its own pleasures: warm, rich food and hot, merry fires; hot mulled cider and hot chocolate; and the promise of Christmas. And even if we are to consider the season as one merely of cold and stone, this only highlights the importance of that great feast. "In the deep midwinter..." as the song goes, when Earth stood iron-hard and colder than stone, the promise of our God began to be fulfilled. While His creatures and creation slept, our Redeemer began his work. And in this we have the image of the cave at Bethlehem: that one simple place, in the mightiest Empire the world has ever seen, a place of light and happiness in the night, the place of the first pilgrimage to which both shepherds and kings were called to do Him homage. In winter is the promise of light.

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