Saturday, as I was pruning a bush in the back yard, the little stems that fell to the ground were loaded with bunches of tiny little white berries. They were simple and pretty, so I decided to take them inside and fill a couple of vases with them as center pieces for my birthday party.

As I trimmed off the extra leaves and poked the stems into the glass containers, the arrangements weren’t turning out as I had hoped. So, I headed back to the yard to cut a few tall seed pods from the clump of ornamental grass next to my compost pile. They had caught my eye earlier, and I thought a few of those pods gushing out of the middle of each vase might make them more striking. 

Just before I made it back to the house, I noticed that one of my perennial mums was in the height of blooming, and with stems loaded with swollen blossoms, it actually had split in two. So, I cut a few of those as well.

Supplied with berries, seed pods, blooms and stems, I trimmed and poked and arranged all the nearly dead things I had gathered from my yard, and eventually, two beautiful arrangements emerged.

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Everywhere I look these days I am surrounded by dazzling color. The blazing red bushes, the fiery orange trees, the glowing yellow and purple mums. I love fall. Like a lot of people, it’s because of the colors and the crisp air. Like a few other people, it’s because my birthday comes in the fall.

And like no one else I know, I love fall because I see the beauty of dying, and it makes me a little less afraid.

I don’t know why it suddenly hit me recently that these leaves and blooms that bring so much brilliance to our fall landscapes are just one big wind gust away from the death. Maybe it’s because in the midst of celebrating a milestone birthday and waiting anxiously through my great restlessness, I have realized that perhaps my life might also get more, not less, beautiful as one by one I check off the days allotted to me.