Tuesday, November 9, 2021

Fascinated with fall

Autumn colors have been something of an obsession of mine since I was ten years old and my family moved from western New York State to California. It was a culture shock to my childish mentality in many ways. One of the many differences between the two states is California doesn't have the uproarious autumn displays that characterizes land east of the Mississippi (not enough water). Since then I have loved autumn and everything associated with it, because it brings me back to a happy childhood.

Fall colors – especially compared to more eastern locations in the U.S. – are also few and far between in the Inland Northwest, where conifers dominate the landscape. Don't get me wrong, conifers are stately and beautiful trees, but come autumn they simply lack the giddy exuberance of their deciduous counterparts.

So imagine our delight at moving to our new home and finding two oaks (and an ash) in the yard, along with an assortment of willows. Deciduous trees! Oh joy!

We enjoyed the beauty of these trees all spring and summer. And when fall came, we hoped for the best.

We weren't disappointed.

It started subtly, of course. The first color appeared in early September.

Once the leaves started turning, I tracked the changes with keen interest.

I couldn't keep away from the trees. At times I would just stand under them, looking up and marveling at their beauty.

By late September, the colors were deepening.

I mean, look at that!

Leaves on the ground were just as pretty.

So the weeks passed, and I thoroughly enjoyed our own personal little backyard fireworks of foliar exuberance.

By mid-October, things peaked.

Don't these colors almost look photoshopped?

What is especially nice is one of the oaks is visible from the kitchen window. I can admire it while washing dishes.

The trees had moods, depending on the weather and time of day.

And then in late October, we had a windy day and that was that.

Well, almost.

Time to rake.

But even raking was a welcome novelty.

This morning we got our first frost.

It was also the last sunny day before a period of rain, so I took advantage of the sunshine to buckle down and get the whole yard raked.

I pitchforked the leaves into the gorilla cart...

...and rolled them to the side of the house where I'd already started a leaf pile.

I wanted to keep the leaves corralled until spring so I could use them as mulch for our forthcoming garden. Don suggested a six-foot diameter pen of field fence. I did a quick calculation (circumference = 2 x pi x radius) and came up with just under 19 feet of fencing needed.

Don helped measure it out and cut the wire where needed.

Crude cage.

We walked it over to the leaf pile and plopped it on top.

Then I worked the leaves until everything was contained.

Now the lawn looks better. I'm not quite done with raking since the willows are still shedding, but this is the bulk of it.

Those who live in more eastern climates may smile at my childish fascination with fall colors and deciduous leaves, but to me these trees are a source of never-ending wonder. And I'll have mulch for the garden in the spring as well. Will wonders never cease.


  1. We still live on the east coast and are privileged with a glorious show each autumn. I never tire of it!

    Your pictures with the sun glowing through the reddish leaves are absolutely stunning.

    When a family member was deployed to a desert country, on a whim I picked up some fall leaves and pressed them in the pages of a book I was mailing. Later they told me those fall leaves were one of the best gifts they'd received on deployment - said they even still smelled like fall when the pages of the book were opened!

  2. Mr. Darcy looks like a lioness about to charge some prey animal.

  3. I enjoyed your photos and this post. I love Autumn as well just not the mandatory leaf raking. My last house was a collection point for all of my neighbors leaves.

  4. I am always fascinated with our trees on the ridge. The buds in spring are just as magical as the colors of fall. Your articles in the Self-Reliance magazine this month are fantastic! I super enjoyed “ Getting your homestead ready for livestock”. Really great read!

  5. I've always lived in Michigan and cannot imagine living somewhere without four solid seasons that include fall foliage and snow. What a blessing you have trees that change color now!

    I went to Scottsdale, AZ for a conference in June many years ago. By the time I got home I felt visually starved for green living things. The entire ride home from the airport all I could do was stare at the miles of trees lining the highway. I was so thankful to be home and feel that way any time I visit a place with limited trees, grass, etc.

  6. I live in Alabama and see plenty of trees. I, too, love trees and like standing underneath them, looking up, and hugging them. That is a very colorful, pretty tree you have.

  7. Fall season is always my favorite! Love the yellow and brown leaves.

  8. Don't forget the vines! I'm not fond of wisteria, it's invasive, but Virginia Creeper is scarlet in the fall, and climbs up pines dressing them into red and green harbingers of Christmas. And while writing this comment I'm looking at a huge pine wrapped in lacy, gold masses of muscadine leaves. Sometimes we get very cold temps and these things seem to live through it. I wish you had some of these too to add to your bounty of color.

  9. As a child of God, it is always appropriate to have a "childish" fascination with His beautiful creation! Fall is certainly gorgeous with deciduous trees around, and I especially love oaks!