Friday, October 9, 2009

A moment in autumn

It is a strange moment in the year in this four-season climate. The leaves on the baby redbud are yellow; the older redbud still gives the impression of green, but a yellower green, and the seedpods that hang like beans along the limbs are dark brown, more visible; and the limbs are visible too, like thin black strokes from a technical pen.

The trees that turn orange and red just began to do that last week, and now are changing fast, whole trees lit all around their edges. They are mostly sugar maples, which tend to be shapely trees, the kind landscapers like, straight single trunks and round crowns.

One fall decades ago I was going around in a sort of brown state, and my mind must have been occupied with thoughts. I don't remember why I drove through Blacklick Park, just that I came around a bend in the road and was slammed by the sight of a huge, old maple in full glorious red-orange. I remember feeling punched in my center and gasping, the way characters in novels do. That tree woke me up for a moment.

My neighbor's tree has dropped almost all its yellowed leaves, and brown oak leaves keep blowing in our front door when I get the mail. But most of the woods in our back yard are still abundantly green, even as their branches are more visible, dark with rain. When I drive through the ravine the drooping green seems to be closing in on the road, and I think about how in another month the leaves will be fallen, the woods will be vertical strokes of trunks, and golden light will shine forth from the windows of houses that perch on top of the ravine, like ours, and are usually hidden from view.

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