As I write this, the winds of seasonal change are whooshing and whispering through the trees like the ebb and flow of an oceanic tide.
There is a good chance the forest will have been denuded of its orange and golden splendor by morning.
I always grow a little maudlin at the end of fall. It brings to mind one of my favorite poems by Robert Frost, Nothing Gold Can Stay:
Nature's first green is gold
Her hardest hue to hold
Her early leaf's a flower;
But only so an hour.
Then leaf subsides to leaf.
So Eden sank to grief,
So dawn goes down to day.
Nothing gold can stay.
A good friend of mine – an English professor – once told me I should lay off the Frost and get some sleep for God's sake after I told him over the phone at 2 a.m. that I was afraid there would never be any "gold" in my life ever again. I was all of 27 years old.
Life goes by so fast. It has been many years since I called anyone at 2 a.m. And I cringe to think of the unmitigated emoting I subjected my friends to then – though it does gives them great pleasure to remind me of it nowadays.
Just like our shifting climate has four seasons, life has cycles.
There are moments when you look around and everything seems to have taken on a bright magnificent golden hue. Pay attention to the shimmer and glow, because in the next moment it will be gone – dried up and blown away – and all the trees will look black and gnarled against a cold gray sky.
Contained in each moment is death and birth. The gold will not stay, but there will be another golden time someday.
One of the wonderful things about seasonal changes is that they serve to remind us about the basic truths of life. I am certain they were designed that way – a perpetual heads-up for the lost and fallible.
Nothing - gold, silver, turquoise, puce or aquamarine can stay. Every flower drops its bloom. Every leaf blows away. Every building crumbles to rubble. And every person is only a temporary resident on this existential plane.
You never know when something you thought was steady and solid – strong and permanent as an oak tree – will disappear.
Some things do change for the better. For instance, these days I prefer to call my friends at 2 p.m. and say cheerful things.
I guess the only thing we can do is to refuse to take anything for granted – look, listen and appreciate. And pay special attention to the beauty in life, because it is the most fleeting thing of all.
Fortunately, the nature of the world guarantees one thing: when winter sets in, spring will follow.