I was born in autumn — born into a regretful 
season. The days before and after my birthday  
are ones of lonesome walking, over susurrant  
leaves, days in which one recalls the cadences  
of Ecclesiastes: 

      All things are wearisome; 
      more than one can express; 
      the eye is not satisfied with seeing, 
      or the ear filled with hearing. 

Viewing thousands of abandoning leaves, one  
senses the futility of a worldly career. One  
publishes an article in a newspaper, for example  
— perhaps to great acclaim. Two days later,  
the same newspaper billows down an avenue,  
pushed by the October wind. 

So strong is the October wind, it blows all  
accomplishments — all diplomas, money, press  
releases — before it. And in this wind is the  
first taste of winter’s grueling breath. 

But this fall is different for me. Walking in  
Phoenicia Park, toward the rising Tremper  
Mountain, now beginning to show its varied  
color, I am not melancholy. The recent horrors  
in Manhattan and at the Pentagon change the  
tone of this autumn to reassurance. Stepping  
over deep red maple leaves, I observe: This is not  
blood. Here are a thousand deaths I need not  
mourn. The leaves did not leap from a burning  
tower; they simply fell, as gravity tugged.  

The earth is designed with four seasons — at  
least in the higher latitudes — one of birth,  
one of fluorescence, one of harvest, one of  
contemplation. Despite war, and acts of  
ruthlessness, Nature preserves her subtle intent.  

There are years one resents Nature’s inevitable  
plan, and there are years one is thankful for this  
same inevitability. I would rather be helpless  
before autumn than before warriors and grim