She lets go her yellow sash, he throws red ascot to the heavens, she steps out of golden ballgown, leaving it in heaps on the ground. Underneath, stark, bleaching, boring brown emerges.
Why do they de-robe, when everyone else clamours for layers? How can they stand there, exposed and chilly, tossed about by fierce icy-breathed winds? Pine and Spruce snuggle into their green jackets, and standing near them, the Pilgrim feels safe, protected, and warm. Pine breaks the winds bellows; Spruce bids the whistler hush, and all breathe relief in their shadow.
But the others: what of Lombard and Ash and Manitoba Maple and Poplar? What of the bushes and ornamental trees? They look so lonely, so abandoned, the first raid of Winter leaving them poor and helpless. How will they survive the coming struggle?
The hermit forest, even now they gather into themselves, away from us, away from each other, into lone silence. I hear her groan as she recedes into her core, bidding me and all the beautiful days of summer farewell. Mute, except for moaning and scratching when the wind blows, they stand braced for fury.
Spruce and Pine cheer us all year round, consistent, quiet, calming. They seem comfortable, and comforted, and make us feel at ease.
But these deciduous ones, their fate upbraids our sense of dignity. Shockingly bare, helpless in the face of forces beyond their strength, the only way they can live is to nearly die.
Spruce and Pine grow constant; always there, we soon forget to look and appreciate their progress.
But these hermits, we cheer for them. We dance in their shed dresses, and glory in their diverse wardrobes. We breathe deep and happy when light green buds appear, because warmth comes to stay then. We picnic and walk under clapping emeralds in summer’s days. And we crunch and race through golds and ambers in autumn’s rhythmic celebration. We mourn their death, and revel in their resurrection.
We wouldn’t love life of Spring so much if we did not have the near-death of Winter. For whatever reason, we watch and glory and marvel more after pain and silence and isolation. So the autumn flurries do not dizzy us, the winter gales cannot dishearten us, the brooding muted months cannot hamper us, only deepen our delight.
We must dig deep for life now too. And we would forget to . . . if not for the trees.