Andy Thinks

Autumn Leaves

I love each of the seasons here in glorious New Hampshire, but there are two scenes that thrill me each time they present themselves.  Both of them involve trees.

The first I have seen only three times in our twelve years here.  It is in winter, the ground covered with snow, just after a serious bout of freezing rain – and then the sun comes out.  The freezing rain sticks to the tree branches, and coats them with maybe 1/8 inch of the clearest ice.  But if the sun then comes out, it is the most glorious sight.  Trees as far as the eye can see, like crystal chandeliers sparkling in the sunlight.  Breathtaking.  (It is also treacherous – if the wind comes up, as it did in the winter of ’99, those very heavy branches coated with ice will come down.  That year many trees in southern NH fell – but four large pines on our land in particular were problematic for us.  One fell on the house, one blocked the driveway, one fell across Gage Road, blocking traffic, and the fourth fell into our neighbor’s yard.  We lost power for four days.  After that winter, I bought a generator, a wood stove, and a chainsaw.)

The second scene that thrills me occurs every year in October.  It is the presentation of the fall colors.  I think there is no place on earth where the colors in autumn are more vivid, more magnificent.  Brilliant yellows, greens, reds, oranges, purples, of every shade.  Many trees are two or three colors simultaneously: maybe red-orange, yellow, and green, as the trees transform gradually from top to bottom.

One of my favorite spots is in the Manchester Country Club golf course along Meetinghouse Road.  There are two sycamore trees side by side.  During the spring and summer, these two trees are twin sisters.  They are tall and majestic, the same height, the same fullness, the same shade of green.  But ah, in the fall.  In the fall the left one turns completely yellow.  The right one turns completely red.

Nothing Gold Can Stay
by Robert Frost

Nature's first green is gold,
Her hardest hue to hold,
Her early leaf's a flower;
But only so an hour.
Then leaf subsides to leaf.
So Eden sank to grief,
So dawn goes down to day.
Nothing gold can stay.

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4 thoughts on “Autumn Leaves”

  1. John Keats (1795-1821)

    To Autumn

    Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness,
    Close bosom-friend of the maturing sun;
    Conspiring with him how to load and bless
    With fruit the vines that round the thatch-eves run;
    To bend with apples the moss’d cottage-trees,
    And fill all fruit with ripeness to the core;
    To swell the gourd, and plump the hazel shells
    With a sweet kernel; to set budding more,
    And still more, later flowers for the bees,
    Until they think warm days will never cease,
    For Summer has o’er-brimm’d their clammy cells.

    Who hath not seen thee oft amid thy store?
    Sometimes whoever seeks abroad may find
    Thee sitting careless on a granary floor,
    Thy hair soft-lifted by the winnowing wind;
    Or on a half-reap’d furrow sound asleep,
    Drows’d with the fume of poppies, while thy hook
    Spares the next swath and all its twined flowers:
    And sometimes like a gleaner thou dost keep
    Steady thy laden head across a brook;
    Or by a cyder-press, with patient look,
    Thou watchest the last oozings hours by hours.

    Where are the songs of Spring? Ay, where are they?
    Think not of them, thou hast thy music too,–
    While barred clouds bloom the soft-dying day,
    And touch the stubble-plains with rosy hue;
    Then in a wailful choir the small gnats mourn
    Among the river sallows, borne aloft
    Or sinking as the light wind lives or dies;
    And full-grown lambs loud bleat from hilly bourn;
    Hedge-crickets sing; and now with treble soft
    The red-breast whistles from a garden-croft;
    And gathering swallows twitter in the skies.

  2. There once was a man from New Hampshire, Whose passions for Fall they did rapture. With a burning desire Autumn’s beauty he admired, The envy of his brother he did capture.
    OK, not quite Keats, but what do you expect from a Californian? Scarce Autumn color out here to spark creativity. Enjoy the season, winter’s coming!!

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