Fall has been lying around,
golden and beautiful,
like a mountain lion sprawled out full and lazy.
Then one morning,
instead of kicking off its blankets first thing,
the sun decides to sleep in.
The wind throws down a book it has been reading about civilization
and says it is bored.
It gets restless, then playful,
then mischievous, then ornery.
The mountain lion folds its ears sideways,
gets up, and slips away.
And the needles begin to fall.
All through the long blustery afternoon,
the ponderosas release their needles,
the oldest ones,
which they have spent these last few weeks
carefully drying and dyeing a pale orangey-tan
that sometimes, if your eyes are blurred or in a hurry,
turns to an astonishing pink
against the bright blue sky.
In the wild wind,
the pines run their fingers through their hair
and comb out these sunrise needles
and strew them on the banqueting floor below,
fragrant, crisp, prickly,
until everything is graciously covered:
the bare compacted places,
the tired grass, the gravel driveway,
the dropped scraps and the collapsed weeds;
all now strewn over and ready for dancing,
or for putting up a tipi and spreading some trade blankets.
The next morning, the trees stand around,
completely green again,
pleased with the earth’s new look,
done just in time for this cold fresh new day.