Wednesday, November 12, 2014

The Ripening of the Year

I read an essay by Henry David Thoreau last month called Autumnal Tints.  The leaves were starting to change and I was between books so I thought it would be a timely read.  It certainly was.  Honestly, Thoreau never disappoint me.  He is a poet, even when he writes verse.  His eloquence and admiration of the simple, humble, and natural have earned him my admiration in return.

The essay completely altered my perspective on the fall.  What I had always perceived as the regrettable dying of the year, Throeau proposed as the beautiful ripening of the year.
The metaphor of an apple is a keen illustration.  Like an apple, the leaves start as buds, grow ever larger as they take shape, are green and sturdy in their youth, and begin to ripen, and then, just like the apple, the leaves start to turn colors through the spectrum of reds and yellows, grow soft, and fall, at last, to the earth to become one with the soil again.
In Autumnal Tints, Thoreau comments, "Our appetites have commonly confined our views of ripeness and its phenomena, color, mellowness, and perfectness, to the fruits which we eat, and we are wont to forget that an immense harvest which we do not eat, hardly use at all, is annually ripened by Nature."
Its so true!  I'd never once considered the autumn as the year's grand conclusion in a flame of brilliant hues of ripeness.  I'd never once thought of a red leaf as a ripe one.  How remarkable!  It flipped everything on its head.
I've since found that viewing the transition through this lens suits me better.  It seems more appropriately celebratory--an acknowledgement of the silent striving that culminates in such perfect ripeness as found in these leaf strewn yards and parks.  Nature is surely not "dying" in the autumn.  The individual plants may be--though most are not really dying either, but merely going dormant for a winter nap.  Nature has finished the work of growing.  The concluding chapter of ripeness and decay which leads to new beginnings once again.
All photos from Zion National Park October 20-21, 2014
I like it.

2 comments:

  1. Replies
    1. Ah, Thoreau. He's always giving me things to think about! :)

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