Diane Ackerman – A Natural History of the Senses
Reflecting on leaves falling, Diane Ackerman writes:
Though leaves lose their green life, they bloom with urgent colors, as the woods grow mummified day by day, and Nature becomes more carnal, mute, and radiant.
We call the season “fall,” from the Old English feallan, to fall, which leads back through time to the Indo-European phol, which also means to fall. So the word and the idea are both extremely ancient, and haven’t really changed since the first of our kind needed a name for fall’s leafy abundance. As we say the word, we’re reminded of that other Fall, in the garden of Eden, when fig leaves never withered and scales fell from our eyes. Fall is the time when leaves fall from the trees, just as spring is when flowers spring up, summer is when we simmer, and winter is when we whine from the cold.
Children love to play in piles of leaves, hurling them into the air like confetti, leaping into soft unruly mattresses of them. For children, leaf fall is just one of the odder figments of Nature, like hailstones or snowflakes. Walk down a lane overhung with trees in the never-never land of autumn, and you will forget about time and death, lost in the sheer delicious spill of color. Adam and Eve concealed their nakedness with leaves, remember? Leaves have always hidden our awkward secrets.