Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Colors of autumn

When I was a kid I thought only elderly folks went on trips to view the fall colors. Leaves get old and die. So what? It happens every year.

So what indeed. Now that I'm approaching the winter of my life, I've begun to appreciate the fall colors a lot more than I did all those years ago. Last Friday the Lady Friend and I drove back up from Evanston to the Writer's Lair in Upper Michigan, and we often slowed to marvel at the red-gold riot along the highway. It's as if the trees blushed in a last flush of moribund glory. What a way to go.

If trees were sentient -- and who's to say they aren't? -- they'd rejoice in the certainty that next spring they'll green up again and resume the cycle of life. Maybe in some atavistic way this is the source for human belief in an afterlife -- a belief increasing numbers of anthropologists think is hard-wired in our evolution. Were we once trees?

Be that as it may, fall colors are worth celebrating just for their own sake. There's nothing quite like rounding a curve full of varying hues of brown and yellow aspens and birches and encountering a maple so spectacularly scarlet that you just have to stop the car and get out to photograph it.

Up close, autumnal maple leaves look as if their tips have been dipped in a jar of red paint, or spattered with a flicked paintbrush. The green of some leaves slowly recedes from the red, like the hairline of a grandfather before advancing scalp.

Maybe someday I'll produce a book that burns with the brilliant glow of a dying maple leaf. Yep, what a way to go.


  1. you are beginning to sound like an old fart - stop that!

  2. if you believe you are, I guess it is hopeless...