October trees paint the landscape
with bright colors,
their branches a display
of yellow, red, orange,
tinged with gold by the sun low in the afternoon sky.
October wind blows,
the leaves rustle and tremble.
Wrested free from their branches,
chasing, teasing each other
as they flutter through the air.
Patterns of red, yellow, orange
litter the ground below.
Branches undress for the coming winter’s mantle of white.
Some trees give up their leaves quickly,
leaving a sudden circle of yellow
around the base of their trunks.
Others are more reluctant –
yellow leaves still cling tenaciously
to their branches,
unwilling to join the blanket of color
beginning to curl and dry up
without the nourishment of their mother tree.
Beauty and sadness mingle
in this turn of the seasons.
The green of the trees’ canopy,
the bright colors of flowers
that have delighted the world have reached their end.
The trees, appearing unchanging
in long summer days,
suddenly change every day
in a flurry of activity.
The natural world embraces this change,
knowing that soon will come the season of sleep.
Squirrels scuttle up and down tree trunks,
through their branches,
shaking more leaves loose,
chasing, playing together,
vying for acorns and nuts to store for hibernation.
(A piece of discarded pumpkin
an unexpected feast
for the rodents and birds.)
Rabbits sit motionless
in the presence of potential predators.
When the coast is clear,
they munch on garden fodder –
perhaps a lone tomato on a vine,
grasses and sweet herbs still plentiful
until the first frost hardens the soil.
They will burrow in their holes
that puncture the lawn,
warm as they nestle together in their downy coats.
The spring’s baby birds
now adults, are ready
to migrate in V formation
high above the autumn color.
Those birds who stay to shiver
and survive the winter
go about their business,
plucking bugs from the earth,
greedily pecking at seeds and bread crumbs
blown onto the grass,
preparing for snow-covered days of food shortages.
Ants, bees, butterflies, cicadas
have mostly died leaving behind their eggs,
hidden protected in tree branches,
on the bottom of leaves,
or buried underground,
for next year’s generation.
An occasional ladybug
crawls lazily up a fence,
seeking some warmth.
Cricket songs that punctuated summer nights
and cicadas’ incessant screeching
for weeks of summer,
have been replaced by silent autumn nights,
interrupted by rainstorms or fierce, cold winds as winter approaches.
Wind blows through the trees,
loosening their last, dried up leaves,
shaking their branches which clatter
and bend with the force of moving air.
October trees gradually give way
to stark November trees,
then turn into winter trees,
their branches, now bare,
spread nakedly in their complex network.
Large branches carve a path toward the sky,
smaller branches jut out from them;
the smallest ones weave their way in between their larger companions.
A light snowfall etches a contrast
between dark and light,
the blanket of white
showing off the branches’ intricate beauty.
The winter trees lie in wait,
as snow, ice and wind
each have their way with their branches.
Yet the branches,
supported by a solid trunk,
remain unscathed by these harsh forces of winter.
Branches sway and bend
under strong, cold winter winds;
they are weighed down by heavy snow,
icicles dripping from their limbs.
Yet their survival is assured:
while winter is transitory,
the trees have stood resolute
in their places,
anchored by roots beneath the earth,
growing and thriving for many years
to carry on for many more.
Copyright © 2017 by amoralegria
This is a poetic reworking of an essay by the same title written in 2013.