The autumn that isn’t…

What’s wrong with this picture?

October 23, 2018

Right. October 23. The middle of autumn. WHERE ARE THE FALL COLORS?

I’m told that in some places it’s Autumn As Usual. The reds are red. The golds are gold.

But here in Southwestern Pennsylvania, the trees either have green leaves or none.

This same picture from our back porch taken October 28, 2013:

SIGH. Not only are the skies gray, and the garden is finished, and the temperatures are in the forties, there are no bright autumn colors to cheer us and make this transition from summer to winter easier.

Some experts have predicted that maybe next week the leaves will turn. That the abundant rain in August and the warm temperatures in early October caused the leaves to keep producing chlorophyll, which keeps them green.

I remember as a kid asking about why the leaves were turning colors when we hadn’t had any cold temperatures yet. I was informed (by a science teacher) that it wasn’t the temperature, but the lesser daylight of fall that made the trees stop producing chlorophyll. Kind of makes me wonder what other misinformation I was given…

So I’ve done some research on this (read Googling why leaves turn color). The SUNY College of Environment and Forestry says, “Rainy and/or overcast days tend to increase the intensity of fall colors.” The website Earthsky.org notes, “Autumn seasons with a lot of sunny days and cold nights will have the brightest colors.” No wonder I was confused…

So with the lack of beautiful autumn photos to show you, I’ll post some pictures of what we’ve been doing for the last three months.

The back porch was mostly finished just in time for Labor Day.

The No-Fun Rule was in effect all summer, so we took a deferred vacation in early October to the Napa Valley. If your kids don’t live nearby, they should at least live in a great place to visit.

 

 

Thankful and blessed. Yes that’s what I’m feeling as I look over these photos. Despite no extravagant fall colors.

Instead I brought the fall colors inside to my living room.

There’s always a way to find joy.

Hanging Out Laundry

There’s something peaceful about hanging out laundry. Standing in the sun attaching damp clothes to a rope with wooden pins is my favorite chore.

It is not drudgery, not like digging an asparagus bed or scrubbing the kitchen floor.


Standing in all the green looking up at the cottony clouds scudding across the sky, touching the white cotton t-shirts smelling fresh as the wind blowing them dry.

Sharing words with the mockingbird who provides the music as the breeze bows to the billowing pillowcase and they all waltz together, the windy pillow clouds.

I lean on the porch railing and long to fly like the mockingbird, the pillowcase, the clouds,

but it is well enough to be here, now, rooted to this spot in the country where I can hang underwear on the line and not worry that the birds might malign the whiteness of my clothes.  Though the mockingbird has tired of waltzing and now composes for my listening pleasure a raucous ditty, a laughing cacophony,

making witty fun of the paint-stained gloves, but I can laugh with him because it is greensummerwarm and there is time to hang the laundry out in the sun. 

The Gloriousness of June

I THINK
I will write you a letter, 
June day.
Dear June Fifth,
you're all in green,
so many kinds and all one
green, tree shadows on
grass blades and grass
blade shadows. The air
fills up with motor
mower sound. The cat
walks up the drive
a dead baby rabbit
in her maw. The sun
is hot, the breeze
is cool. And suddenly
in all the green
the lilacs bloom,
massive and exquisite
in color and shape
and scent. The roses
are more full of
buds than ever. No
flowers. But soon.
June day, you have
your own perfection:
so green to say
goodbye to. Green,
stick around
a while.
         -- James Schuyler

James Schuyler has written the perfect poem: a love letter to a day in June. Not just any day. Today.

June green is unlike any other, vibrant and alive, still nourished by the spring rains, not yet ruined by hot sun, nor eaten by insects. Next to the June green, the peonies are more vibrant, the sundrops more sunny, the daisies more pure. Yes, June green is more.

The gardens are planted, red pears and green apples are growing, cherries are ripening, birds are nesting, perching, and singing.

The wild primrose opened in Sunday’s sun and surprised the surrounding motley plants. Her dazzling yellow perks up the shabby shed and makes the neighboring weeds look more stately. 

The new gate opens wide and the new fence keeps the fruit trees in and the riffraff critters out (so far).


If I stand by the garden gate I can watch the grape vines growing, their tendrils curling around and around. The grapes are too small still to be more than a vague hope. Will they be sweet? Will they be juicy? Will they be jam or wine?

The cherries are yellow, blushing pink. I ate one today, still sour, still small. Bluebirds are nesting in the eaves of the porch; wrens are nesting by the door. They can have some cherries as long as they share the deep blue June sky.

Dear June fifth, you are glorious. You are enough.