September 30, 2004

This is my first complete deciduous autumn (we arrived in the middle of fall, after the leaves had begun to turn, when we were in Germany). The hawthorn trees in our front yard are whispering secrets, chattering softly to each other as their leaves flutter down, patchwork on the lawn. The berries linger, outlining the limbs in a fierce red. Every few days, an army of small birds moves in, trilling to the dying year.

I have a vague memory of a comic strip: something startles a tree, and it drops all of its leaves at once. My redwoods growing up never did that, being imperturbable evergreens and all. The hawthornes don't seem to be startled, instead letting their leaves drift away like dreams. The cherries haven't even started to turn yet. What would startle a cherry tree? Or will they slip softly into winter's slumber, dragging the last leaves like a child with a favorite blanket?

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