I was born in autumn — born into a regretful season. The days before and after my birthday are ones of lonesome walking, over susurrant leaves, days in which one recalls the cadences of Ecclesiastes: All things are wearisome; more than one can express; the eye is not satisfied with seeing, or the ear filled with hearing. Viewing thousands of abandoning leaves, one senses the futility of a worldly career. One publishes an article in a newspaper, for example — perhaps to great acclaim. Two days later, the same newspaper billows down an avenue, pushed by the October wind. So strong is the October wind, it blows all accomplishments — all diplomas, money, press releases — before it. And in this wind is the first taste of winter’s grueling breath. But this fall is different for me. Walking in Phoenicia Park, toward the rising Tremper Mountain, now beginning to show its varied color, I am not melancholy. The recent horrors in Manhattan and at the Pentagon change the tone of this autumn to reassurance. Stepping over deep red maple leaves, I observe: This is not blood. Here are a thousand deaths I need not mourn. The leaves did not leap from a burning tower; they simply fell, as gravity tugged. The earth is designed with four seasons — at least in the higher latitudes — one of birth, one of fluorescence, one of harvest, one of contemplation. Despite war, and acts of ruthlessness, Nature preserves her subtle intent. There are years one resents Nature’s inevitable plan, and there are years one is thankful for this same inevitability. I would rather be helpless before autumn than before warriors and grim battle.