Earlier this week I watched the last leaf gently fall from an oak tree. It was a fitting symbolic end to the literal denouement of autumn on the year’s shortest day. This massive Quercus seasonally revved down its engine, losing its abilities to create biological energy from solar energy, entering its winter slumber. But beneath the cold bark, the nourishing sap still flows. As the green leaves surrendered their chlorophyll and the carotenoids and anthocyanins took their brilliant fiery moment on the forest’s center stage, this ancient being experienced miraculous changes. Cellular fluids within the cells are concentrated with natural sugars (the same phenomenon which gives maple sugar its characteristic taste). This process also lowers the freezing point inside the cells and acts as a natural antifreeze. Nutrients and energy collected during the sunnier growing season are internalized and sequestered, awaiting the brighter days after the thaw to bud the next generation of leaves.