This is the time of year when the trees begin to look tired. They grow weary of holding their brave, green face. What was bright and lush in the spring is faded and washed by the end of August. They are simply done. They are ready to let go.
The leaves may yellow, but they are not fearful — not of the impending chill or their imminent descent to the earth. Soon, they turn red, a parting gift to us, flaming out as they detach and drift slowly to the ground.
They abandon the branches to face winter alone, to cope with their sudden exposure and bear the weight of snow. The leaves will nestle into the earth, becoming untethered from the backbone of xylem and phloem and liberated from the guise of cuticle, seeking safe harbor in the roots that once nourished them to life. They will come to return the favor.
In the spring, the leaves will be back, speckling the branches with a spry, verdant charm we will have almost forgotten over the ardor of winter. All will be awakened, and all will be new.