How pleasant to walk over beds of these
fresh, crisp, and rustling fallen leaves, – young hyson,
green tea, clean, crisp, and wholesome! How beautiful
they go to their graves! how gently lay themselves down
and turn to mould! – painted of a thousand hues
and fit to make the beds of us living . So they troop
to their graves, light and frisky. They put on no
weeds. Merrily they go scampering over the earth,
selecting their graves, whispering all through the woods
They that waved so loftily, how contentedly
they return to dust again and are laid low, resigned to
lie and decay at the foot of the tree and afford nourishment
to new generations of their kind, as well as
to flutter on high! How they are mixed up, all species,
– oak and maple and chestnut and birch!
They are about to add a leaf’s breadth to the depth of the soil.
We are all the richer for their decay.
Nature is not cluttered with them. She is a perfect husbandman ;
she stores them all.
Henry David Thoreau’s Journal