Consider the vast crop is thus annually shed upon the earth.
This, more than any mere grain or seed, is the great harvest of the year.
This annual decay and death, this dying by inches,
before the whole tree at last lies down and turns to soil.
As trees shed their leaves, so deer their horns, and men their hair or nails.
The year's great crop.
I am more interested in it than in the English grass alone or in the corn.
It prepares the virgin mold for future cornfields on which the earth fattens.
They teach us how to die.
–Henry David Thoreau
from his journal entry, 1853