Monday, November 04, 2013


“Nature is, above all, profligate. Don't believe them when they tell you how economical and thrifty nature is, whose leaves return to the soil. Wouldn't it be cheaper to leave them on the tree in the first place? This deciduous business alone is a radical scheme, the brainchild of a deranged manic-depressive with limitless capital. Extravagance! Nature will try anything once.” - Annie Dillard, Pilgrim at Tinker Creek 

"The extravagant gesture is the very stuff of creation. After one extravagant gesture of creation in the first place, the universe has continued to deal exclusively in extravagances, flinging intricacies and colossi down aeons of emptiness, heaping profusions on profligacies with fresh vigor. The whole show has been on fire since the word go!" - Annie Dillard,  Pilgrim at Tinker Creek 

I was walking up King St. this morning and noticed that the Ginkgoes planted here and there along the street had changed. Last week they were still green, and on the weekend they finally turned  their characteristic autumnal fluorescent yellow. This morning something further had happened; it was as if they'd all given themselves a vigorous shake and let loose their leaves. At the foot of each tree were piles and drifts of golden yellow, so many of them that it almost reached the level of "too much."

I've been rereading Annie Dillard's work the last couple of weeks, and at the moment I'm making my way through Pilgrim at Tinker Creek. The impact of all those golden leaves strewn across the sidewalk reminded me of what Ms. Dillard had to say about Nature's extravagance. She's dead on target! The color alone is excessive, and then there's the amount of them. When you add them to the rest of the colors in the Cumberland Valley and on the surrounding South Mountain and Blue Mountain ranges, it's really more than is necessary. All variations of yellow, orange, and red decorating all the Maple, Ginkgo, Osage Orange, Oak, Elm, Locust, Black Walnut, Willow... Really, it's too much. All that color, all those leaves everywhere you look is overwhelming. It's really not necessary! But would we have it any other way? I don't think so. 

Beauty so overwhelmingly expressed may be excessive and extravagant, but it makes going out the door every Fall morning a joy. Long live extravagance!

© 2013 by A. Roy Hilbinger


  1. Oh, I love this! Ginko is one of my very favorites! That's a gorgeous photo....and extravagant! ha.

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