Sunday, September 12, 2010

Leaves in fall.

The leaves, the leaves, oh the leaves! They have not even started yet but the return of occasional rain to parched summer Portland and that certain occasional chill in the air; the return to school and the return of football season even though I will never be one for football; the slow and deceptive shortening of daylight; the return of Pumpkin Spice Lattes and advertisements for corn mazes on Sauvie Island in the paper; the return of month names with multiple syllables: Sep-tem-ber, Oc-to-ber, such lovely sounds on the tongue--all of it verges on the brink of my favorite time of year, the fall, not quite submerged in it yet but almost there. And the best part of all is of course the most obvious and brightest sign of the season, yes, even more than the Pumpkin Spice Latte, the leaves!

Portland is okay when it comes to fall foliage; the above picture was taken here and remains one of my favorite leaves pictures I've taken (and I've taken a lot), mainly because the light was perfect. (I also took it when we went to Jamba Juice for breakfast on our way to Seattle for the first time the first fall we lived here, and I was feeling excited and free the way one does on the morning of a road trip, so I also associate it with that feeling, making it doubly good.) And I must admit there is a brief window of time in October when all of the trees along our stretch of Powell turn the same brilliant shade of yellow and it makes even Powell seem magical and soft.

But there is really no out-doing the Northeast and the East Coast in general. New England is world famous for its foliage and so spending five years of falls in Boston wasn't shabby (even though I acknowledge that the foliage of the city can obviously not compare to the rolling hills and mountains of Vermont and New Hampshire and the like, which I haven't truly experienced in fall). But when I am really in heavy autumn reminiscent mode, my favorite place in my mind is my tiny town in Pennsylvania. Trees exploding in red and orange and yellow and all shades in between in my heavily wooded yard and along Route 507 and Route 6, circling the lake in a fiery, joyous display: the New York and New Jersey tourists are gone! Back to Wallenpaupack High; back to field hockey games and marching band; back to bundling up in sweaters. My falls were my busiest time of year, what with practice on the lush field behind the middle school every afternoon and football games on Friday nights, and even though I consider myself a pretty angsty person throughout most of my schooling in Pennsylvania, I know I was deeply happy at moments during those falls. Field hockey put me in the best shape I will probably ever be in and that felt good; it felt good to feel active and healthy, and even though we hardly ever won any games throughout my entire athletic career, I loved the way the late afternoon light slanted across the fields and the way the grass smelled. At home, I would lay on the floor of my bedroom and listen to Dave Matthews' Crash on repeat. The entire album always takes me back to a sweet, warm place; youth in a small town full of bright leaves in my memory.

It seems strange when one stops to think about fall in depth and in scientific terms, that all those colorful leaves in actuality represent death, but still fill me with such feelings of comfort and renewal. But I know poets have already discussed the irony and the meaning of this, and I am not a poet, so I'll leave it with them.

But I will say toodleoo, summer, I know you are the season of passion and romance and energy and fun, but I am ready for those leaves to start changing, because fall, you to me will always be the prettiest.


  1. I wish summer was leaving here..... stupid warm weather.

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