Saturday, September 16, 2006

Rediscovering Autumn

Late summer edging into autumn has always been my favorite time of year. Unlike some people who see it as a time of winding down and closing in, I love the golden sunny afternoons with just a hint of chill in the air and the mellow growth of late gardens after the frenzy of summer heat. The heat of summer here could hardly be called a frenzy, but the golden afternoons are all the more precious for their respite between the endless light of July and the warmth that leads into evening.

Like a child I am learning all over the signs of the seasons. In lieu of scarlet maple leaves rouging the landscape, I watch the rowan berries moving from orange to red. Autumn comes earlier here but is milder. The roses are still blooming along the cottage walls and my garden is still producing zucchinis, but there is a chill in the evening air and the sun is not rising as high in the sun as it did even last week. The kittens seek the heat of the parked car whenever their favorite sun spot disappears. I don't know yet how I will protect them from the winds of winter, but we still have time to think about that.

There are few trees here, but we have been south and I have seen the leaves begin to turn. The sight made me happy and at the same time made me painfully homesick. Morris asked me what the leaves would be doing in Indiana just now, and when I went to answer a love poem to maple trees fell out of my mouth. The birches are getting golden tips to their leaves down south, but the most interesting tree to me is the larch.

The larch is an evergreen in the technical sense. It is not deciduous; it clings tenaciously to its leaves throughout the season, but the leaves turn brown. When I first saw these brown branches in stands of pine and spruce in their full green glory, I thought the larch was a victim of disease or other eco-disaster. The color jarred so much that I could not notice the graceful ballerina arms dancing in the wind.

Now I have actually come to enjoy the russet red brown of the tiny leaves. Not yet as much as I enjoyed the scarlet maple and the oaks, but I have time to look with new eyes not only at the larch but the other signs of the season here known as Back End, the heel taps of the year.


At 3:51 AM, Blogger gracefulwild said...

It's funny how many templates we use when looking at the world. Go larches! Brown, slender, and spindly actually sounds like a fine way to do autumn. I didn't know you had larches over there; I associate them with Canada. Well, even the things that the midwest has in common with the far north of Scotland can surprise me!

At 8:00 AM, Blogger landgirl said...

The larches are imported over here, so they are not native. They may also have been imported into Canada. So many of the trees around now have been replanted and hybridized. The Scots pine, which looks a lot like Charlie Brown's Christmas tree, is native. Obviously I think importing aliens has great virtue for a landscape as i expect in time to go native myself.

At 11:57 AM, Blogger ZACL said...

I miss trees - not the Sycamore I have to say; that one grows well controlled here so it is probably in the right place.


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