It’s a beautiful word, Shishigashira, the name of the lovely little maple by our front door. Its leaves shimmering in the cold rain, I’ve been watching it day by day. But not for the right reasons, I must confess. I’ve been watching, waiting, for those leaves to fall, so that I can decorate the green-trunked and leafless tree with red holiday ornaments.

What a fool I’ve been, really, to wish the hastening of the seasons. To wish these brave golden leaves dull and fallen. On a day when heavy Chinook-type helicopters have twice flown so low over the house that the windows vibrated, how could I wish any sign of life to meet its end?

All things fall, all too soon. The day I finally hang my Shishigashira with shining and sparkling balls, playthings for the December rains, should be a day of mourning as well as celebration. And in the meantime, I don’t want military helicopters shaking leaves from my tree, or anyone’s tree, or taking up space in the cool, wet sky. The rain is enough.

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