Wednesday, December 12, 2007
The fallen leaves, surprised by last week's snow and the subsequent rains, haven't had the opportunity to shrivel up, get dry and crumble before winter like they usually do. Instead they've been mummified by all the cold precipitation, plastered into the pavements. Underfoot, the landscape is a decoupage of the elements, slippery, beautiful and slightly unnerving.
I don't remember a fall like this but I haven't lived here that long. I've definitely seen incredible variations here in the seasons, but nothing like this year, though I'm sure it isn't the first autumn of mummified leaves and leaf ghosts. Surely not.
It's new to me, which is what makes the leaf rot so interesting, and kind of creepy. The sequence goes like this: first they get flattened but are still structurally sound, then pudding-like, then transparent, after which they disappear altogether, leaving behind only ghostly silhouettes, as if they'd been vaporized.
Decay has never been my favorite phase of the cycle of life, but these tableaus, the sidewalks of Capitol Hill in mid-December 2007, are striking, even beautiful. A salute to the leaves, once vibrant, then colorful, now just a memory. May each of us be so graceful at the appointed time. Bravo! L'Chaim!