By the middle of Fall, most of the yard work is done. A cold spell or two has crushed the hostas wilting their leaves in a prelude to a collapsed desiccated skeleton. The golden rod has gone gray and the remains of astilbe stalks poke through the accumulating leaf litter. Most of the tree leaves have dropped. The sugar maples made the first leap this year followed by ash, tulip, redbud, and crabapple. The dogwoods and rose-of-sharon made strong attempts to hold onto their colorful leaves but last week’s wind and rain were too much forcing them to shed their coverings.
The oaks are always late dropping their leaves, but in an uninteresting way as they hang on to their dull appendages through the winter. Now only the Japanese maples are the last deciduous stand between a colorful fall and a dull winter. But before they liberate themselves from the trees, they are putting on a crimson show that few trees can mimic. As everything else has been bared, they stand defiant fully clad, fiery to the end.
The maples first drop their seeds, which spin like pinwheels on their way down from the tree to the ground. The leaves hold on stubbornly, deepening in color. The birds hide within from the hawks who circle above our house giving our bird feeders new meaning. But soon this camouflage will be gone in one quick swoop as one day soon the Japanese maples will shed their leaves. They fall into a colorful mosaic carpet of their own making leaving prints on the slate and covering the pachysandra. I would like them to remain and linger on the ground a reminder of the vibrant colors of Fall. But once they drop they must be raked quickly as snow is often not far behind.