Thursday, October 23, 2014

Stocking up on October

It’s beautiful October in the Midwest. We’re soaking it in. 

The month is a free show. All we have to do is be here to enjoy it.

The patchwork countryside, as the hills burst into seasonal shades of russet, yellow, orange and brown, is the thrill of glory as natural daylight wanes and nights grow cool.

The clash of bright colors adds rich seasonal vitality to the landscape soon to go bare. We stock up on this kind of weather.

It’s like putting a 100-pound bag of potatoes in the cellar to feed you through winter. It’s a reserve you count on. It keeps you going. It's like money in the bank to have any precious or necessary supply laid in.

I reckon October is also like a landing on a stairway. Midway through it lets you catch your breath. You can enjoy where you are before you continue on.

While color has been exceptional I won't wager it has outshone previous years. They’re all breathtaking as you live them.

Some years do stand out by specific images of trees whose brightness burns into your memory, or because of special trips or drives made to see the color. 

Year to year you forget the breathtaking effect of the changing colors. It’s like seeing them for the first time to see them again.

The fiery hues of a few weeks ago are dulling. The canvas is getting bare. Windy weather is helping with the process. Leaves are falling by the bushel load.

It’s no wonder in the summer, with leaves large and firmly attached, as if they came that way from the start, trees are such dense green screens. So many leaves!

When the leaves tumble from the skies in their autumn dance they collect in deep piles on the lawns. They swirl into house corners as if already thinking of shelter from the cold days to come.

A considerable number of leaves wind up on driveways and front steps. They’re swept or blown off repeatedly in what is an annual rite of clearing away.

Al and I note that our golden highway is no more. It’s the name we give our street at this time of year. 

At peak color the mature plantings of maples in nearby front yards become a golden canopy overhead. We’re uplifted by the sight of them as we pass under.

Their luster has dimmed the past few days. The gleaming golden roof we look up into, with awe and surprise that catches us each time, has mostly been shed.

Outside work is getting done. The pleasant temperatures make home chores an active and satisfying preparation for winter. 

I washed the sliding deck windows, wondering how they get so dirty. Wind was my guess as I carefully tried not to streak the glass. Wind flings dust and grit. 

Today I removed a bunch of fallen leaves from the deck. When all was done I discovered a small trick was played on me as I worked. 

One perfect yellow leaf sat, as if arranged, in the middle of a deck chair just brushed clean of the damp residue of leaves left from overnight sprinkles. It fell the moment I turned away. 

The leaf was prettily shaped. It reminded me of leaves you single out from the others as a child to collect and bring to school for show.

“Count on it,” I believe the leaf would say if it could think or had a voice, “you’ll shovel the deck of leaves soon again, for of my kind there are plenty more.”

Not all leaves were as attractive this year as the one which preened on the deck chair for me to notice. Not every tree, as with not every leaf, winds up visually stunning in the fall.

Along with wide areas of extreme color were equal spaces of faded greens and washed-out yellows. Nature plays her cards her own way.

All the leaves will be missed, whether vivid in color or fading into the background. It’s a long season of stark and bare on the other side of this.

By stocking up on October we hold to fall a little longer. It’s what we can wish our leaves, as they sail by and skip along, would consider to do. 

Not a chance now as the leaves steadily fall. The request will have to go in for next year.

Ro Giencke – October 23, 2014


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