Falling of the Trees

This is my second post focused on trees during the four distinct seasons in the northern United States. The trees in summer and winter are pretty static – the deciduous trees are green leaved in summer and bare branched in winter. It is in spring and fall that the trees are in transition and change week by week, morphing into what they need to be in winter and summer.

Over the years we have vacationed in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula in late August and early September. By this time we are very tired of the steamy heat of summer, looking forward to the crisp cool air of fall and the vibrant colors of fall foliage. It is in northern Michigan that we see the first hints of fall color on a single branch of a tree. I look for these as we are traveling down wilderness roads.

The next step in this transition is the yellowing of leaves in the woodlands. This wooded site in Vermont was very familiar to my eyes looking towards fall.

Early September in Vermont

As the yellow leaves mature and start to drop, we begin to see hints of pale red and orange in the landscape.

Hidden Lake Gardens in southern Michigan.

Soon the oranges become dominate adding big splashes of color bordering the fields of corn that is turning golden and brown as it dries for harvesting.

Reflections in the mill pond close to our home.

Then the oranges and reds of the Maples intensify and the oaks start turning a dark red. My favorite scenes are combinations of evergreens and deciduous trees because the evergreens provide a resting spot for my eyes that are overwhelmed by the riot of color.

Of course there are trees that are doing things besides producing a wonderful color show. We have many apple orchards in our area of Michigan and a special fall treat is visiting an apple orchard for freshly picked apples that snap when bitten into.

And soon the leaves begin to fall…

Until they are all on the ground waiting ready to be collected so they don’t smother grass and perennial flowers beneath them.

The trees are left bare, with their wonderful skeletal structure exposed, indicating winter coming very soon after. But that will have to wait until the next post as part of Becky’s tree-square challenge for the month of July.

In a Northern Neighborhood

At the end of October my neighborhood was ablaze with color. This isn’t unusual – what is unusual is that this year I was in Michigan to experience it for the first time… once again. For the past 11 years we have been in Florida from the middle of October to the middle of November. We leave our northern neighborhood just as a few branches of color are showing here and there. Every year I eagerly watch for these small patches of color just as in the spring I eagerly watch for the gentle green of new leaves. We return to Michigan about this time in November to bare trees and the only fallen leaves to be seen are on the floor of wooded areas and on the edges of country roads. We return to Michigan to see what I see outside my windows now as we move close to our Thanksgiving celebration. Skeleton trees bare of leaves.

But I am still thinking about the past three weeks and am so thankful for being able to experience them. We had a really warm early November so I spent a lot of time outdoors taking photos and raking (well, more time photographing than raking). I was seeing autumn in my neighborhood through the eyes of someone living in the southern United States. I was seeing autumn from a macro perspective because it felt so exotic.

I noticed how the tree full of golden orange leave (first photo) in our side yard had a few bare limbs, exposing seedpods that are hanging on long after thousands of them dropped in early summer. When I was a child we called them whirly-gigs and would toss them in the air to watch them twirl to the ground. One of the wonders of nature. Next spring I will be pulling up small maple tree seedlings from my garden beds.

It is so amazing how many leaves are on a full-grown tree. The tree can be covered with brilliant leaves and still, underneath the ground is covered.

We needed to rake these up because the grass had grown during the warm days and the man who mows our lawn was coming the next day. We also went for a walk and both Jim and I moved to the east side of the street so we could walk through the dry, fallen oak leaves blown there by the wind. Oak leaves are the most fun to walk through because they are big and make lots of crinkling sounds when we do that special kind of shuffle-walk that we learned as children walking to school.

In a few days the weather turned colder, more seasonal, and the wind blew hard. As I drove down the country road on my way to somewhere, the leaves were whirling in circles on the road and leaves were falling so heavily that it sometimes made me wonder if I would have to turn on the wipers to see. Then I laughed at myself. What joy.

And then they needed raking again.

My inspiration for writing about living in my northern neighborhood this autumn came from the Lens-Artists Challenge # 123: Found in the Neighborhood.

Staying Afloat – Kinda

We are staying afloat, kinda, as we attempt to stay safe while maintaining relationships with friends and family. Yesterday was a blaa day – grey skies, rain all afternoon, cold. Today is forcasted to be the same but with 2 minutes and 43 seconds less daylight. This time of year the daily loss of daylight is about the same over two or three months and adds up quickly. I don’t do well with less daylight, especially when the daylight is filtered through dark clouds.

But I am keeping my commitment to identify something each day that brought joy. It was difficult finding a bright point of joy yesterday – in fact I don’t remember how I filled most of the day. Funny how there can be a time of joy nestled in a grey, curl-up-in-a-blanket kind of day. There was a joyful period when I felt nurtured by an activity that by design will nurture one of my children.

I am making a throw size quilt for each of my adult children (and a spouse) for Christmas and yesterday I cut the extra backing and batting of the quilt I’m making for our son. It is so exciting to clean up the quilt that is now ready for the binding – the very last step of completion. I nurtured this quilt into existence, using a pattern for inspiration but designing the quilt around the idea in my head of what Mike would like, laying the pieces out and changing them until every piece fit within the whole I was working towards. And then sewing them together and watching in amazement as they came together almost perfectly – then taking out the offending pieces and replacing them with the perfect ones. Yes, it was a labor of love and joy – with a peak of joy when I cut off that extraneous fabric and could see what it would look like finished. But it isn’t quite finished so today I will start sewing on the binding. Will that be my experience of joy today?