Autumn’s Coin

The sun shone through gold leaves and brown on Saturday afternoon. Huge tan platters, slightly curved inward, rustled and skittered down from the sweet-gum tree outside my office. It sheds bark first, then large leaves that catch the wind and rustle and dance across the yards when the wind is right.

The light has shifted, slanted and clear. Summer’s smoke and dust have faded away, leaving sunlight with an edge and a golden cast to it. Or is it the gold and yellow and tan and crimson in the leaves that tint the passing light? We’ve entered the season of weakening sun. I can go outdoors bare headed and in short sleeves and not crisp. Oh, I’ll still burn if I’m not careful, but not instantly. The light and milder heat feel good in the crisp air. The sun blesses instead of punishes. It provides energy, encourages hurry—harvest is ready, now is the time, the fields are golden and the late fruits are ripe. Gather what you can, while you can, in the fat weeks and months before winter.

Not everyone loves the falling leaves. The community tabby picks his grumpy way between the largest of fallen leaves. He cannot sneak when every step crackles and crunches. The orange cat minces, one white foot carefully placed, then the other. He steps with great care among the brown. Or he clings to windowsills, edging along above the fray until the windows run out and he is forced to return to the ground.

People are busy. Some rake leaves, others mulch them in. At RedQuarters we wait for a generous carpet, enough to make the neighbors concerned about propriety and tidiness, then run a mulching mower over everything. One neighbor is out planting late-season flowers and hauling sacks of mulch. Another replaces brackets for Christmas lights, while promising not to put the lights up until Thanksgiving. House painters work down the street, touching up trim. Dad and I will wait for the last hold out of the trees to scatter its burden before we tackle the gutters. That tree’s leaves always end up in the gutters, even if we use gutter guards. It’s a plot, Dad’s certain of it.

A few birds have moved through. Waxwings and robins, the kites, all came and went. I saw a heron the other evening. The bats seem to have migrated south as well. I await the winter owl, the goldfinches and snowbirds. We have not had many geese yet. They might be waiting, or may have diverted to better-watered routes. Last month I heard sandhill cranes pass overhead. None since then, that I know of.

The light shifts, the sun slides south, the year turns. Orion’s heralds have appeared in the east.

9 thoughts on “Autumn’s Coin

    • Yesterday, we had rain turning into slush turning into very wet snow. Perhaps a half inch of Cascade Concrete that melted away by early afternoon. My studded snow tires are on the vehicles that have them, with the truck waiting for its non-studded winter tires.

      We have a solid carpet of Ponderosa pine needles that need to be raked up. Far too many to take to the transfer station, and it’s still too wet to consider burning. Once we get a dry spell (first time I’ve had to wait for one in a few years), I’ll burn the slash and pine cone piles, then as things dry out more (assuming it happens), pine needles will burn.

      I wonder how the carbon output of 20+ pine needle piles compares to Al Gore’s private jet in flight. [VBEG]

  1. Great description. Church or Bierstadt would make a nice painting from the words.

    The goldfinches left last week. The echinacea stems remain in place for winter and early spring. Resident and migratory birds enjoy the seeds. The rest of the beds get ready for winter: now, we wait.

  2. Next to my apartment building there’s a tree (not sure of the type) with very large leaves.

    One of the leaves came down noticeable near my Beagle Lilly.

    She got startled by it hitting the driveway. 😀

  3. Autumn is in its full glory here. The hard maples, the dogwood, the sumac, the Virginia creeper, the poison ivy(!) last for a while. The yellow leaves of the hickories come and go in a couple of days. The oaks are still green…they are the last to change.
    When the juncos appear we know that winter is not far behind.

  4. Lyrical description of fall, and the golden light? I’m sure it’s painted by the leaves and color of the fields.

  5. Ah, but (likely you do as well) see the morning sky. “Poor mans’s time travel” as it were… and though Winter approaches, I see the promise of Spring if not Summer.

Comments are closed.