Beautiful Fall Colors = Mountains of Dead & Brown Leaves
The autumn season in the mid-west is when Mother Nature turns into Technicolor Tessie. In the Chicagoland area, people drive hundreds of miles north into Wisconsin’s Door County to see first hand the color orgy that’s taking place as the green leaves of summer are replaced with the dazzling reds, oranges, yellows, etc., of fall. My question has always been, “Huh?”. I’ve never understood why. Last I looked, northern Illinois has lots of trees, too. They change color and are basically the same type trees that grow in Wisconsin. So, why would one drive all that way burning up gasoline making a larger, um, eh, ‘carbon footprint’ for oneself? People, listen! The same trees were there last year and the year before and will be there next year. A red maple is not going to have yellow leaves in the fall and a fiery oak is not going to be tan. I did some extensive research (well, maybe a couple minutes worth) and found this color chart of fall leaf colors, mind you it’s not exhaustive but you can get a general picture.
As you can see, all of the colors are in the warm color palette. There’s no blues, purples, cyans. The leaves change to the same color year after year, century after century depending on what genus the tree is. I’ve known some folks who stay at the same motel in Door County year after year and see the same trees produce the same colors as well. What is the point? Maybe it’s the Brandy Old Fashioned at the nearby Supper Club. But wait, I’m not done ranting!
Our neighborhood has a lot of trees. Most are maples. I only have one deciduous (from the Latin decidere which means “fall off the tree creating a humongous mess that takes hours of raking and many 30 gallon lawn rubbish bags to hold all the *#@&#%@^$#~! leaves) tree. But I’m lucky enough to have good neighbors that want to share their leaves with me. My one deciduous tree is a Magnolia but most of the leaves that I unhappily rake up are, you guessed it, maple. For this part of the rant, let’s pretend, shall we? Enter the pretty fall tree. It’s not a maple tree, but we’re pretending. This is what it looks like in it’s fall wardrobe; a beauty, eh?
Now, this is what it looks like when all those beautiful colored leaves fall off and die turning an ugly shade of dead brown. And add all the neighbors’ contributions and you’re talking hours of raking and stuffing that will make you go mad from the sheer tediousness of it all. This year I decided to spread the torture over a few days. I’d work for a few hours at a time until I imagined seeing forest nymphs when I’d call it a day and take a cold shower. I’d then sacrifice a goat to the wind god praying that the 60 mph gusts would calm down. And by the end of day 3 1/2 I was finally victorious having wrestled the remaining leaves into the 20 or so lawn waste bags. When I was a kid, we didn’t poison landfills with these horrible 30 gallon trash bags. In those days, the dads would pile all their leafy debris along the curb and set them on fire. The leaves would pretty much just smolder and pollute the air as dad watched his mini-forest fire and puffed on a ‘Lucky’. Miss that smell, there’s nothing else like it.
Now that the leaves are off all of the trees, I can relax until the next insult is thrown my way in the form of frozen crystals of H2O, known in these here parts as something to give motorists a headache, potholes! No, actually snow. Bet you didn’t know that snow is a magical form of frozen water crystals that can put moon sized craters into asphalt paved streets. Now, I’m getting myself depressed with this talk. Think I’ll go make myself a Brandy Old Fashioned and make a toast to the forest nymphs!