"Enjoy these precious days," whisper their leaves.

There's a massive gingko tree in Isham Park, and I pass it every day on my way to and from the subway. It's gorgeous and really huge. I don't know if I'd say that I consider it a friend, but I do sort of say hello to it, or something like that. I acknowledge it. The way the stairs wind down the hill out of the park, heading straight toward it from above, puts the tree suddenly in front of you in a way that makes it impossible not to sort of bow.

The leaves turned bright yellow this week like they do in the fall. I wanted to take a picture on Monday -- I have a friend in Austin who is an amateur botanist obsessed with gingkos and from time to time I'll send him a photo of it -- but I was running late for work so I didn't, thinking I would do it later. The next morning, all the leaves had fallen. Every single one of them, and the sidewalk was paved solid yellow with them. Later that day I read that all the Gingkos all lose their leaves overnight, every tree, all on the same night.

There are thousands of gingkos in New York, in most cities, but the only other one I remember that was so large was in front of the DePauw University library in Greencastle, Indiana, where my mother worked when I was in high school. That tree -- and I don't know if this is exactly how it works but for some reason it's stuck in my head -- was close to another tree of the opposite sex, and when that happens they develop yellow-orange fruit that drop in the fall and stink like fresh vomit and diarrhea and sex. It's a noxious, unsettlingly human smell that seems to drift for miles.