After the season

They whisper and laugh among themselves: they’ve had a good season.

burning-bushThe ladies of the woods have dropped their green maple, ash, and elm gowns. They stand together in silence behind the pool fence, naked to the forest floor, arms limbed out as if still in their sassy scarves. Swaying like Mandarins, they recall summer’s social season when they ringed us on three sides and we stood in awe of their dancing.

We rake up their party clothes, now yellow like old silk, brown and rustling like old taffeta.

Not so off-topic as you’d think: the winged burning bushes splash the woodland floor, backdrop the perennial beds, soften the outbuildings, and accompany the driveway down to the distant road.

Their fires begin in October when they burst into flame. Fierce statements against autumn’s yellow-brown hues. Through the season, they stock inventory.

These days, a nurseryman hereabouts won’t sell you a winged burning bush: ornamental, they say, but invasive. Native to Asia, but, here, the bush takes over; we should pull them out by the roots, we’re told. I hesitate. And suddenly, they’re everywhere, as if you’ve bought too many of what you believe to be beautiful and they’ve failed the useful test.

The November wind smells of snow, and we hurry to clear what’s left of summer’s extravagance. In the pool, the court ladies’ slim bodies mirror the tall, the bare, the regal, and the spent. They whisper and laugh among themselves: they’ve had a good season. Their scarlet slippers, light remnants of the burning bushes, are beaded with berries and strewn about on the forest floor. We leave them there.

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