Tag Archives: Autumn Leaves


Let Your True Colors Shine Through

You never know what you might find






Roy G Biv



Leaf Rainbow

Leaf Rainbow: Deconstructed

Leaf Rainbow Reconstructed

The small unnoticed things

Been thinking a lot about the value of not grumbling about things that we must do. Attitude makes a difference.

Not grumbling about it, didn’t mean that I didn’t put it off. But, when I finally dragged myself outdoors with the leaf blower today to tackle the last of the beautiful autumn leaves, I was determined to do two things: 1) complete the entire task and 2) take notice.

Take notice I did and in doing so found a simple peace in what had been a daunting task. It was fun, a bit of harmonizing with nature, to take notice of the various leaves. They weren’t all “just brown”, but various shades of brown. I checked an online thesaurus that listed 27 different words for various shades of brown: amber, auburn, bay, beige, bister, brick, bronze, buff, burnt sienna, chestnut, chocolate, cinnamon, cocoa, coffee, copper, drab, dust, ecru, fawn, ginger, hazel, henna, khaki, mahogany, nut, ochre, puce, russet, rust, sepia, snuff-colored, sorrel, tan, tawny, terra-cotta, toast, umber. I think each of those shades could have been found in the leaves on the driveway. Noticing the colors meant I didn’t notice how many times I walked up and down the hill, nor how my back ached, or worrying (aka “grumbling”) about how my arms would later hurt from trying to blow the large wet fallen leaves into one pile at the bottom of the steep drive.

Afterwards, I went back into the house to get my camera to capture some of the little, usually unnoticed things, in a large pile of brown leaves.

One of a Different Color

One leaf, many raindrops

Photo Friday: One

Leaf Dance

I remember the first time that I saw it happen.

I was about eight, staying home sick with one sort of ailment or another; a fever, a cold, a sore throat. The remedy was always the same: some sort of disgustingly sweet orange syrup that couldn’t hide the metallic taste of the antibiotic. Kept in the refrigerator, its coldness only added to its unpleasantness. My mother hadn’t started to work outside the home yet, but she was out of the house for a short time, probably taking her turn at kindergarten carpooling for my younger sisters.

I loved those brief periods of time left alone in the house. Although we were suppose to stay in bed if we were “too sick” to go to school, I would sneak out as soon as I heard the car wheels spewing the gravel into the street. The house had a quietness that was more than just unusual for a house full of seven kids, two adults, and a lazy dog who would only come to life to bark at the afternoon paperboy. The silence was exciting, mysterious, and a little bit frightening, yet exhilarating.

I remember looking out the window, thinking I wanted to be a writer when I grew up. I tried to write a poem about the clouds. It was, as you might imagine, a quite horrible, the sky-is-blue/the clouds-are-white kind of thing.

Then it happened. There was no wind on that Fall day. The large tree in the neighbor’s yard that shaded my parents’ driveway had turned that shade of sunlit yellow that midwestern oaks turn in October, just before the grey days of November. Slowly one leaf drifted down to the ground, trying its best to twirl in the too calm currents of air. If it had had wings, it might have stirred a slight breeze, remaining in the air for a moment longer.

As if it wanted to join its compatriot, a second leaf danced down to the dirt. Then a third. Then leaves four and five, followed by six, fifteen, twenty-three. All the leaves began their dive dances to the ground, cheered on by those already massing on the driveway and the thin strip of grass between the two houses. “Join us” they seemed to chant. The falling leaves began to create their own thermals, joining the sound waves from those who had departed the branches before then.

It was over as suddenly as it began. Only a few lone leaves, the last guards of the outpost who would hang around on branches until pushed down by January snows or March ice, remained.

When my mother returned home, I wanted to show her my poem about the bright sun and the billowing clouds in the blue sky. “That’s nice, honey” she said. “Reading it makes me feel like it is warm outside. Good thing you are indoors.”

“Look at the leaves on the driveway”, she said. “Your brothers will need to get busy raking this weekend.”

“Do you know that poem by Joyce Kilmer? I think that I should never see, a poem as lovely as a tree… Go find the book of poems and look it up. Your grandmother said he was related somehow to your father. And get back in bed!”

I did. It confused me that “Joyce” was a man. I didn’t know if he had seen a Leaf Dance, and I didn’t know if my mother was trying to tell me that I was a fool, or to encourage me. I didn’t care too much for his poem, even then, but I think he was right about the majesty of trees.

Poems are made by fools like me…

My grandmother always claimed lineage to people she admired. I can only guess that was the case with Kilmer. She said he was a good Irishman, but in fact, he wasn’t Irish at all. About the closest my grandmother’s family came to Kilmer, I think, other than perhaps reading his poem anthologized everywhere, was that they lived in Chicago, not too far from the school in Rogers Park named after him. I would guess that if one had challenged my Grandmother on Kilmer’s non-existent Irishness, she would have said, trying to mimic her mother’s Irish brogue, “But he was a good man, with a good sense of humor who loved God. So he’s Irish with me and that’s that!”

I forgot about the tree shedding all of its leaves at once, although I do recall a few times when we had to unbury a car parked there at an inopportune time. I don’t know if anyone else ever saw that tree decloak so quickly, but many years we knew that it was full in the morning, and naked by dusk.

Now, sometimes, during Autumn, when the wind blows and the oaks begin to shed their leaves, I think about that tree, about how glorious it is to see an entire tree emptied within a few minutes, as if the limbs whisper to the leaves “We’re good now. You can go on your way.” Leaf removal in my woods is a continual process between mid-September and mid-November. I spent three hours Monday clearing the driveway; having only scattered leaves on it this morning, it is nearly covered this afternoon. The leaves have been raining down in quick showers since about 10 am, but they are carried by the wind to various places and you cannot tell from which trees they have fallen.

There are many bare trees now, but still many more with leaves yet to fall. I don’t know of any tree in my yard that commands all of its leaves to abandon ship at once, though I think if I listen closely enough, I may hear the command to the ash trees, then a few weeks later to the maples and hickories, to set sail on the wind. Last to leave their airy ports are the oaks, which will embark in stages, for the next few weeks, on their swift journeys to the freezing ground, as the tall masts of the trees go to sleep until Spring and we are left to marvel at the piles of glittering golds, purplish reds and burnt orange leaves ornamenting our walks, drives and neatly manicured lawns.

Delightfully Dancing Glittering Gold

Each snowflake is different

Were you ever told, when you were a child, that every snowflake was unique? Perhaps the metaphor was extended and you were told that you, too, were unique — just like the snowflake.

Except snowflakes all look the same close up. They may indeed be unlike any other, but it is difficult to tell that when they are falling heavily in your yard or flurrying across the road.

I was thinking about this today as I prepared to blow the leaves off of my driveway. This is a task that I have always hated. In other seasons, I’ve paid someone to do this task for me. Since we have several varieties of trees, all shedding their foliage at different times, I usually paid them several times a season for this task.

This season is different though. I’ve been keeping leaf patrol myself.

I decided that I would enjoy the chore as much as I could. By doing so, I’ve found something much different than sore arms: the beauty that resides in the leaves.

I haven’t done an analysis to verify the unique as a snowflake theory — there are too many for that — but I think that each one, with its varying hues, its veins, its own insect-eaten damage is unique. What beauty there is in the variety. I’m not sure that I would have noticed it if not for the camera — and the damn leafblower.

Putting the Garden to Sleep For The Winter

Garden Pot With Leaves #1

Garden Pot With Leaves #2

Garden Pot With Leaves #3

Shadows. Fall.

Mostly out of habit, or perhaps in recognition that it is a core part of my being — even if only in theory and not in practice — I say that I am not a morning person. I’ve always disliked that call to leave the shadows of slumber and venture into the dawning world. There is nothing more jarring than an alarm clock; yet I cannot awake without one when there are schedules to keep. And so, reluctantly, I inhabit the mornings, although frequently the better spirits of my nature take a few more hours to awake to the world.

But, some days, despite my reluctance to stretch before the sun has legs, I am in tune with the slow waking of morning. It is on days like this, when the night shadows of the trees have yet to go to their day retreats, and the warm glow of the sun hits upon the tops of the leaves, that I am glad to have been awake as the night flees and the day comes on.

The streams of lights, and the columns of shadows are my favorite at this time of day.

Driveway: Leaves & Shadows

Leaves Lighting Darkness

Valley of Light

Woods Alighting

Even inside, for a few minutes, the morning light casts interesting shadows.

Tree Shadows Watching Room

The morning light fades quickly, leaving full light, remarkable in its own self, though not as quiet.


Lovely Leaves

Usually, this time of year, I’m vacationing in Southwest Florida. I love going to the gulf during October. It is still warm, but usually not too hot. The beaches aren’t crowded, and you miss the winter traffic. In fact, it’s a bit early for the snowbirds, so many places are like ghost towns. And, if you’re there Oct 15 or later, it’s Stone Crab Claw season.

For several reasons, we didn’t go this year. I thought that I’d really miss going. But, I realized the other day, that I typically remark, upon my return from the airport, driving up the leaf-covered driveway, that I feel like I’ve missed something with the turning of the leaves.

As I’m discovering this week — a glorious week weather-wise in the Midwest — the leaf-turning does happen quickly. Trees fully covered in the morning can be bare-boned by sunset. It’s been in the 70’s this week, above the average temperature, but since it was colder at night last week, the trees have received the message to stop photosynthesizing, revealing the magnificent colors that were in the leaves all along, hidden by the chlorophyll.

I remember years ago my former husband, who had grown up in high mountain desert, comment that he thought the landscape in the Midwest was boring, because everything was green. To me, that is like saying that the sky is the same color as the ocean. Yes, the leaves are green, but the maples differ from the oaks from the hickories from the firs, each reflecting light a bit differently. Perhaps it is their underlying colors, the ones you see only in Autumn, that vary the green. Doesn’t matter, though, how the color wheel of nature combines it all; it is beautiful.

Lovely Leaves

Water on Leaf on Mum

Taken 6pm 10/9/11. The mums may be buried before they ever make it into the pots.