Wednesday, November 6, 2013

The cons of autumn

I love fall. Fall in New England makes February worth it. I especially love fall in the city where I now live. There seem to be just so many more types of trees around here compared to where I grew up, and so many of them are huge. The house next door to us has a simply enormous oak tree and two gigantic maples in their yard. Every year, they turn the most glorious colors, and when the afternoon sunlight angles in and hits them just right, they glow.

So. Huge, beautiful trees turning gorgeous colors: Pro.

But do you know what happens to the leaves after they're done glowing on the trees in the afternoons? They fall off the trees. Into your yard. And have to be picked up.

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Do you see the size of that leaf pile? Nora is standing up in that middle picture. In the top picture, Ann Marie actually got stuck in the pile as if it were leaf quicksand. And that's not even all the leaves in the yard! I didn't bother with the part in front of the side door or the section around and behind the swing set. Why not rake all of it and be done, you ask? In response, I present the trees directly above our yard:

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That's a lot of leaves up there. And over the past eight years we have learned that these trees shed their leaves last.

Actually, the past eight years have given me the chance to make some observations of the natural world. First, walnut trees turn yellow and lose their leaves in September when Norway maples are still lush and green; Norway maples turn last. Second, the first leaves to turn are the ones that get the most sun. This is a particularly nice effect because of the afternoon sunlight angling in and making them glow, as I mentioned. Third, trees in a clump turn colors starting from the outside in. My theory here is that the inner trees are kept warm by their neighbors and thus get the temperature signal to go dormant only after their neighbors have shed their leaves, but the takeaway message is that in a copse of Norway maples, the ones in the middle lose their leaves dead last.

These?

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The middle trees in a copse of Norway maples.  So yeah, we've got several weeks to go. We will be raking up those leaves in late November, when it is really really cold and there will be a distinct lack of joyful jumping into the leaves. There will instead be a lot of grumbling about cold hands.

Late November freezing cold raking of leaves: Con.

Ah, well, I still think the pros outweigh the cons.

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5 comments:

april said...

I miss good trees in our yard, as all we have are palm trees, but since we don't even get the good colors and still get all the dead on the ground, somewhere around now is when I'm glad I don't have them. If I lived somewhere where there was a real Autumn, perhaps I would miss them more.

HereWeGoAJen said...

Last year, when I had been looking out in the yard for a few days and grumbling about having to rake all the leaves, a teenage boy appeared on my front steps and offered to rake for ten dollars. I couldn't have paid him faster. He bagged them all up too! It was amazing. I really hope he reappears this year.

Becca said...

Those are really beautiful trees! And tall! When I went to Boston with a group of Texans once they all commented on how tall the trees are. Freaking Texas.

I remember my dad raking up all the leaves in our huge yard when we lived up north. Huge pain. Pretty though!

Anonymous said...

All this noticing of the trees and the different kinds happens to you. Don't know if it is the age or the station of life with little ones. And those Norway Maples are invasive and I wish they could all be replaced with NE Maples. I am sending you a big truck to take the leaves away...well... wishing for you.

Anonymous said...

P.S. Do you want our leaf blower/vacuum? We don't need it anymore.
You Anonymous Mom by the way.