fall foliage blues

leaves are gone

It would be nice if I could resist the temptation to quote the Mama’s and Papas right now, but that’s just not a possibility because “all the leaves are brown and the sky is gray.”  The best word to describe the view from our windows now is Bleak with a capital B (see above). I’m not really dreaming of California, I am just feeling a bit jipped. This year, Fall Foliage extravaganza was brief and lacked its usual luster. The trees didn’t pull out their full regalia before creating a mess.

All season, I was advocating patience to my fellow fall foliage fans. “Just wait,” I said, “It will be great.” (And yes, rhyming is how I best express myself on serious subjects – I highly recommend this technique.)

Rumor had it that the leaves were going change color late this season in our area because of all the moisture (i.e. Hurricane Irene, Halloween Blizzard, and lots of other damp dampness that never got named). People predicted that the colors might not be as vibrant, but I refused to believe this. Turns out fall foliage is something I have come to depend on. It’s the colorful bridge that carries us from the splendors of summer to the winter woes: without the fancy tree show, why would any of us want to walk that plank?

So this fall was disappointing, but I can’t say it was a complete disaster. For a brief moment (literally 67 seconds), this was the view outside our picture window:

leaves outside window

And this little Japanese Maple should be commended for its performance:

Japanese Maple

Aside from these few glimpses of glory, the scene was drab. There are lots of theories swirling around about the leaves this year, mostly things having to to do with the balance of chlorophyll, sugar, and something called anthocyanins that affect the pigment. And all the rain we have gotten around here can cause fungal problems in the trees which can, in turn, infect the leaves. (In other words, the very conditions that create magnificent mushrooms can unfortunately damage the trees. Talk about conflict of interest, here at the home tome!)

I don’t know if I buy into any of these more official, biological explanations. Instead, I have been developing some of my own theories about what happened (or didn’t happen) this fall:

  • Maybe Mother Nature is going color blind.
  • Perhaps God was running low on watercolors.
  • Very likely, the trees were feeling frumpy. After all, who wants to get dressed up when you feel soggy and bloated?
  • The trees were probably depressed. Who wouldn’t be? Recent storms caused trees to lose their limbs, their friends, and their dignity. For example, this is approximately one third of what came down on our property during the Halloween Blizzard:

limb pile(In case this photo doesn’t quite do the pile justice, it was about the size of a school bus…okay, maybe half of a school bus. All of our neighbors had similarly impressive (depressive) piles.

  • Finally, I have a feeling that the trees are getting revenge. When my mother used to drive me to school this time of year, she’d always exclaim, “Aren’t the trees beautiful, Jocelyn?!” In response, I had the audacity to roll my eyes. Now that I’m of an age to appreciate the colors, I’m pretty sure the trees are punishing me for being such an ingrate and I can’t say I don’t deserve it.

Whatever the case, I guess we should all be thankful for whatever colors we pass, even if they are gray and brown with a bit of gray-ish brown mixed in. Soon enough (only a year) the trees will once again surely impress us with their shocking scarlets, deep burgundies, burnt siennas, and atomic tangerines. (Thank you, Crayola.)

We should also be thankful for our mothers pointing out the beauty around us, even if it takes us a while (a few decades) to actually see it.

Happy Thanksgiving to everyone!

(And also: thank you in advance to my mother for helping us make our first turkey. May it turn out more amber than charcoal, more edible than poisonous, and exactly as delicious as all of turkeys you’ve made over the years.)

Categories: Garden

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6 replies

  1. Woah! Your coffee table! It’s amazing! Sorry you had a disappointing foliage season.. We had one of my favorite autumns ever! Guess it’s just another reason to live in MI. 🙂

    Happy Thanksgiving!

  2. My theory is that the trees are pissed off because of global warming, which is the root cause of all the problems & heavy storms they had to deal with this year. If this is the case, don’t look for better foliage next year, look for the trees to come to life & start attacking us, like in Lord of the Rings.

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