This morning we had a visit from the leaf people, and I got to thinking about what it is that I love about fall.
It's the crisp air, mornings and evenings. The icy cold east wind blowing down the Gorge and stirring up mini tornadoes of dry leaves in the street, making the dogs jump and snap at them with instant friskiness. The tangy aroma of wood smoke wafting from chimneys makes me nostalgic for my childhood and the smell of great big leaf piles burning in the streets.
But I think my favorite thing about fall is the trees. The sheer variety of color and shape and size is staggering. Portland has a thing for trees. Big old specimens line our streets: elms, oaks, poplars, walnuts, chestnuts, cedars and maples so large it would take three people holding hands to circumnavigate their massive trunks.
On my daily walks, I marvel at how different each tree's timetable is...the giant maples that line one street by my house turn color all at once and form a golden tunnel that stretches for three-quarters of a mile, yet two oak trees planted side by side couldn't be more different. One drops its leaves over a period of a week or two, and the other tree stubbornly hangs on all winter, only letting go when the new buds appear in the spring to push them off.
(photo borrowed from this site)
I love the ginko tree that I pass daily on my morning walks with the pups. All the leaves turn at once - seemingly overnight, then one day they all drop simultaneously, as if on cue from Mother Nature herself, and form a brilliant golden halo on the grass underneath.
(photo by Ken Lomax)
I think my favorite one of all is the japanese maple next to our house. Every year it turns three distinct colors: red, bronzy green and orange, putting on a crazy show until those gorge winds hit and blast off all the leaves in one fell swoop. Mother Nature is such a floozy!