Thursday, October 04, 2001

Autumn Is An Ache

and the trees are stripped bare of all they wear,
but what do I care.

and kingdoms rise, and kingdoms fall,
but You go on
and on..."
-- U2

I love living in New England this time of year. Fall is my favorite season and is just getting started in these parts. It seems a little late getting in gear this year. Columbus Day Weekend usually finds us in close to full blown blood-red, golden-boughed glory, but this year it seems a tad pokey. That's fine by me. The longer, the later, the better. Makes it feel like summer and golden sunshine is here just a bit closer to the coming spring. As long as that coming spring doesn't come too deep into March or April, like it did this year!

It is a well known fact that New England has some rocking fall foliage. Other parts of the country have great Autumns too. Western Pennsylvania, where Doug grew up, has treated me to some beautiful scenery. The Skyline Drive in the Virginias is gorgeous. Wisconsin, Michigan, and Northern Illinois... yeah. Fall is gorgeous there too. Upstate New York, fuggedaboutit... it's just like New England when you get down to it.

New England's one gift to me among the cold, sneery natives, the nasty attitudes, the self-righteous and obnoxious Bostonians, and the incessant, invading throngs of tourists, is the precious and beautiful Fall.

When we used to live in Marblehead, MA, we lived right in the heart of town. Tourists from all over the place would come and get lost, and find us sitting on the porch watching traffic and drinking a Sam Adams. They'd stop to ask for directions, due to the fact the Information Booth in front of our house was more often closed than open. And we would gladly oblige, not feeling it necessary to fuck with their heads and send them down one of the countless catacombish one-way lanes in town. It was Autumn, the world in her resplendant glory. Why fuck with tourists when you could just add their smiles to the rest of the beautiful scenery.

You mess with their heads in the heat of summer. That's the best time to do it.

Anyway, there are a few trees that either have just begun or are in full flame. But those are mixed in deep among a sea of green. A few seem to have shed their mantles without even bothering to transform from mellow greens to firey yellows. Either way... it's beginning to change over and the cool air at night is urging the change on. We've been sleeping with the windows open still, and warm comforters and the flannel sheets that will get us through the winter are wrapping us in nightly comfort.

I found an interesting foliage map and lifted it from, which I guess is a division of Yankee Magazine. It maps out all of New England for you, so you'll know in future when to best travel here to soak in the local color.

This map below is cute too. The far northeastern leaf is where you can find us.

One year I remember I went home to NY from college for Columbus Day weekend. When I left, the leaves on the trees surrounding the pond behind the dining hall had just peaked, and were amazing. I was looking forward to coming back and walking the long, muddy trails behind the pond opposite that dining hall, enjoying the leaves.

When I got back, all the leaves were gone, they'd all blown off... and I returned to sticks of sorry looking trees looking too early naked against the pond's reflection. Seems there was a windstorm over that weekend, and all the foliage got wiped out before I could enjoy a good sit, gazing lovingly through the giant windows of the dining commons at the colors, eyes lifted up from text of Yeats or Joyce. Sigh.

The true bummer was that in my hometown, Fall had barely started. So I missed fall entirely that year. It was gone in a gust. I was very depressed that winter. I think I require Autumn in my life. I went to college in Oregon for a semester, and the following winter I was just abysmally depressed. It occurred to me later that I'd missed Fall due to the fact they go straight from summer into snow before mid November in the mountains of southwestern Oregon, north of the Rougue River Valley. A couple Aspens had turned yellow, but the snow came so fast that they lost their leaves and we went from wearing shorts and 80 degree days to wearing our best Lands End and Bean clothing and trudging to class in the snow. It was surreal.

Our own backyard at the Way Out Inn is overpopulated with neverchanging conifers... hemlocks, and lots of piney varieties. We have only a couple of disiduous trees, an oak, a maple, which turn the brightest yellow and orange and scream in their new cloaks against the deep greens of their needled neighbors, and the deep blue of the sky. Sitting by our swingset pushing a child in the swing while splayed in the sumptuous plastic lawn furniture, turning your face up to the afternoon sky with the sun shining behind the colored leaves... it is a slice of heaven.

I am looking forward to a lengthy changeover this year, hoping the leaves put on a splendid performance for me this year. It will warm my heart and make me glad to be alive, in light of some of the negativity that is happening around the globe these days. A good long walk among the leaves is just what I need.

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