Friday, September 10, 2010


A phenomenon in the periphery of the back yard catches my eye every fall---more accurately, every late summer. A few leaves of blazing red pigment, beautiful and shocking so early in the season, stand out in a canopy otherwise green. The mornings have only just begun to cool. The afternoons are still hot. Yesterday's mercury reached above ninety degrees. One could not yet call this fall.

Only these few leaves are red in the sea of green. They hang on a single twig at the end of a branch in a tree that stands just across our property line at the edge of the woods. The rest of the leaves on this tree are still mostly green, though some have yellowed. Other trees around the edge of the yard are still fully green. How does it happen that one twig on one branch of one tree allows its leaves to turn suddenly crimson, when the rest of the leaves on same tree gradually turn brown or yellow as they prepare for the single ride of their lives to the ground?

The tree doesn't look healthy, and perhaps that's the answer. It sports several bare branches that never do leaf out. Maybe the deep brown and yellow leaves that fall with each breeze would be equally crimson if their tree were robust. This tree makes a valiant attempt at a new fresh canopy every spring. I've watched it do so for as long as we've lived here, 15 years. I don't know what kind of tree it is, and it doesn't matter. Its few red leaves are my latest model for tenacity when the writing work gets hard. dkm



Wonderful post. I'm always intrigued by such phenomena; the persistence of orchids, for instance, growing in unfriendly terrain. The red leaves you described indeed lend themselves to a metaphor: bravery, uniqueness, you name it. As a recent transplant to a place with more variety in weather, I've grown to quite love orange, golden leaves in the fall. Thanks for this-- I love that I learn something new every time I visit your blog.

dkm said...

You humble me! Thanks!