Around here the tree outside my study window is called a magnolia. I doubt that any southerner would recognize it as such, but that’s beside the point. In the early spring it is covered with beautiful, large pink flowers that quickly come and go. By late spring it has leafed out with such enormous overlapping leaves that it forms an impenetrable canopy letting through mere dapples of sunlight and sheltering the birdhouse from wind and midday heat. I love having that tree outside my window. It frames the garden below, which, because of its shade, needs little watering and is always lushly green. All summer long the sparrows in the birdhouse produce nest after nest of little birdlettes. A lone resident squirrel patrols the perimeter with one eye watching for Riley the Westie and another for encroaching squirrels from foreign lands on the other side of the house. In autumn its leaves never turn color; they just slowly fall, one-by-one, until the whole is denuded. The last of them can sometimes hang on until December. Not so this year. The wind came up last night and roared through the day encouraged by heavy afternoon rains. By evening the tree was all but bare. I know it’s all part of the great ebb and flow of nature’s self renewing cycle. Spring will come again. But just the same it makes me a bit sad.