Fall got off to a slow start, with early October still mostly green,
and the second week of November found the color in our local park not much past peak.
(Yes, leaf-strewn paths are a favorite thing.) It was only last week, as final exams ended, that I noticed that the trees were finally bare, and the sycamore bark was doing its winter thing of catching all the available light, dazzling us until the leaves start to bud again in a few months.
There is probably a metaphor there (as is generally the case when English majors ponder The Meaning of Things). At twenty, life seemed a race to get somewhere as soon as possible because, if one waited too late (twenty-nine or so), life was a long, sad slog to the end. Anything important had to be done early because a passionate life seemed possible only for a very limited number of years. The English Romantics, subject of much of my early academic training, were mostly done by the time they were thirty-five (and several were actually dead, or nearly so), so living into old age was not a particularly attractive prospect. Yet, forty years on, here I am.
Trees are perhaps wiser than humans. They keep doing what they do, and every stage is lovely.