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034

Winter’s flattened out the garden. The view outside the window is tidy and discreet. Spring promises new enchantments with 180 more bulbs planted, but they sleep underground with the roots and worms and seeds of next year. Right now, I’m left with the fond memories of Fall and her voluptuous decay.

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At this moment, I feel Fall is my favourite season. All the perennials reach their prime and begin to collapse. Seeds scatter and fluff and hang onto skeletal branches in dimming light. Over-ripe veggies beg for roasting. Frost blanches the green leaves black. Squirrels become obese in their compulsive harvest, tumbling across the fences and trees. All the beauty and fullness of Summer now needs to unbutton, to spill over, to free her hair and toss it around, to take off her bra and flop relaxed and haggard onto an overstuffed chair. Fall looks in the mirror and sees the small changes that cannot allow her to deny death. Then she laughs.

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Death and hope in the garden is one thing. Fall’s mess makes compost. Leaves feed the soil. Life and death appear visible in tandem on a rosebush. Zinnias bloom, make seed, grow and die all on the branches of one plant. The impossible yet obvious interconnectedness of birth and death stare back from the garden and say, Duh! Individuality is a myth. Find a better story and tell it. Unbutton yourself. Let go.

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And for all that wisdom, I’m a terrible individualistic person and can’t stand chaos, especially when it comes to office supplies. But allow me this indulgence as I listen to the Fall garden. Allow me to exhale in the presence of this sloppy scattered grandmother, and listen to her tale fraught with absurdity and paradox. Later I’ll get to work and turn the compost, rake the leaves, prune an evergreen into a perfect little globe and pick some red mustard for supper. But for now, let’s laugh at the mirror, because death just means more things will grow when winter’s over.

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