My Fresh Hell
Life in Scribbletown.

Winter Has Come

2006-01-04
I have struggled with the recent deaths of friends this week, and how best to tell Dusty about her friend. We will finally tell her tonight because I plan to take her to a memorial service for the slain family tomorrow afternoon.

We have been reading "Bambi" – the 1931 edition that I got from my mother as a child (and it was a second hand copy even then) – and last night I read a short chapter that really hit home. Dusty wasn't paying close attention and the subject of the chapter clearly didn't register with her to any deep degree. But, as I read, I felt I was being spoken to, that there was a reason I was reading this now, of all times. At the risk of being sued for copyright infringement (please don't sue me! I'm poor!), I want to share it with you since it handles the subject of death so well – in the Jack London world I embrace – but it's also beautiful prose. I was almost moved to tears and, if I hadn't have been reading it to Dusty, I would have cried.

If you've never read the original book, I urge you to find a copy. Just for you.


Chapter VIII – Bambi by Felix Salten © 1929, 1931 by Simon & Schuster

The leaves were falling from the great oak at the meadow's edge. They were falling from all the trees.

One branch of the oak reached high above the others and stretched far out over the meadow. Two leaves clung to its very tip.

"It isn't the way it used to be," said one leaf to the other.

"No," the other answered. "So many of us have fallen off to-night we're almost the only ones left on our branch."

"You never know who's going to go next," said the first. "Even when it was warm and the sun shone, a storm or a cloudburst would come sometimes, and many leaves were torn off, though they were still young. You never know who's going to go next."

"The sun seldom shines now," sighed the second leaf, "and when it does it gives no warmth. We must have warmth again."

"Can it be true," said the first leaf, "Can it really be true, that others come to take our places when we're gone and after them still others, and more and more?"

"It is really true," whispered the second leaf. "We can't even begin to imagine it, it's beyond our powers."

"It makes me very sad," added the first leaf.

They were silent a while. Then the first leaf said quietly to herself, "Why must we fall?..."

The second leaf asked, "What happens to us when we have fallen?"

"We sink down…"

"What is under us?"

The first leaf answered, "I don't know, some say one thing, some another, but nobody knows."

The second leaf asked, "Do we feel anything, do we know anything about ourselves when we're down there?"

The first leaf answered, "Who know? Not one of all those down there has ever come back to tell us about it."

They were silent again. Then the first leaf said tenderly to the other, "Don't worry so much about it, you're trembling."

"That's nothing," the second left said, "I tremble at the least thing now. I don't feel so sure of my hold as I used to."

"Let's not talk any more about such things," said the first leaf.

The other replied, "No, we'll let be. But—what else shall we talk about?" She was silent, but went on after a little while, "Which of us will go first?"

"There's still plenty of time to worry about that, the other leaf assured her. "Let's remember how beautiful it was, how wonderful, when the sun came out and shone so warmly that we thought we'd burst with life. Do you remember? And the morning dew, and the mild and splendid nights…"

"Now the nights are dreadful," the second leaf complained, "and there is no end to them."

"We shouldn't complain," said the first leaf gently, "We've outlived many, many others."

[...a short digression cut here...]

Then they were both silent. Hours passed.

A moist wind blew, cold and hostile, through the treetops.

"Ah, now," said the second leaf, "I..." Then her voice broke off. She was torn from her place and spun down.

Winter had come.

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4:06 p.m. ::
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