The pond in autumn is ablaze around the edge, flaming with orange, red and yellow. It is fueled by trees, starting with maple and ending with oak. The leaves give up their green, so valuable for future growth, and send it back into the body of the trees. The hot colors are left behind.
As the days shorten and cool down, the leaves heat up – or seem to. I expect to feel heat on my face. My eyes burn, but I cannot turn away. People come from far away to see trees like these with shocking bright leaves.
The trees around the pond crowd the edge but cannot go in. They ring the water, cast their shadows when the light is low, and show off their reflections in the middle of the day (as long as the water is calm).
In autumn, their colors and reflections border on blinding, ending the growing season in a blaze. There aren’t vast swaths of trees around the pond, but their reflections double their glow, a two-for-one fire sale.
And the sale ends quickly, as gravity claims the leaves, a process hastened when wind and rain drive the leaves to the ground. But for a few weeks, the autumn fire is spectacular.
Every year, they set themselves on fire.
And every year, they save themselves from the flames.