Friday, October 29, 2010

10.29 Carpet of Leaves

Orange leaves with red patches among them cover the walkway between the driveway and the house. The big maple fighting for space with power lines, beautiful for weeks, is now on its season-ending half-life for autumn color. Peaking, earlier this week. Then a rainy night; not a bad rain, a soft rain, but coming at just the wrong time for leaf maintenance. About half those perfect color orange leaves lay on the ground in the morning. They make a bright carpet around the house.
Now it is well known feature of the fall season that many people get in their automobiles and drive scores or even hundreds of miles into the “country,” to look at the color compositions of the New England woods. They drive and look, adding their share of carbon loading to the atmosphere, and stopping occasionally at designated view points.
Meanwhile back in the cities and towns of the same New England, folks can’t wait to wrap up every last fallen leaf and stuff them into bags, black plastic mainly though some have adopted the recyclable paper bags, and have them promptly removed. Hooray! they say, We’ve done it! Bare pavement once again!
What is this haste to reveal the impervious surface, the asphalt underpinning of settled American life?
Why not leave the still colored leaves on the ground where nature put them and enjoy the effect? The novelty will last at least a few weeks, then wear off as the leaves dry and turn brown. Then you can remove them, giving yourself good reason to spend a few hours outdoors in drear times.
Right now, though, while trees are thinning overhead, bald patches appearing here and there, the thick blanket of orange and yellow on the ground reflects the burnished orange in the cherry tree in the back garden and enlivens the scene from bottom to top.
The leaves of a pair of young rose of Sharon bushes turn yellow, the top-heavy structures looking like two lemon-yellow ice cream cones, the rusty-tawny leaves of a big hosta beside one of them complementing the color. The leaves of a recently added plumbago have turned a coppery red-brown, and the drying blossoms of a low hydrangea offer slashes of carmine.
But the biggest color field stretches from the crowns of the shade trees to the carpets of color those trees spread beneath their thinning canopies on the ground.
Why is anybody in a hurry to get rid of that?