Monday, November 21, 2016

Leaves underfoot and overhead: my New England fall

I drink it all in greedily. The greens, the browns, the golds, the reds, and all those indescribable shades in between and beyond. And the blue, blue sky overhead. The nip in the air only serves to accentuate the sharpness of the colors, and adds a quickness to my step as I crunch across the leaf-strewn pathway of the arboretum.

Arboretum: a place where trees and plants are grown to be studied or seen by the public (Merriam-Webster dictionary, online)

I would amend that definition to include: a place that offers a sanctuary from the chaos and confusion and the intense pressure to achieve order that marks urban life.

Of course, temples and spas also offer that. But you know what I mean. Chants and bells and low-key piped music and strange aromas do not quite match the abundance of the woods. Even if it is a cultivated copse (not a typo, the r has no place in this wood/word).

I took a few hours off on what promised to be the last perfect day of the New England fall to find my way to the Arnold Arboretum, on the southern edge of the city. The crowds thin out between the T-stop and the almost-industrial looking pathway and suddenly,  a pair of wrought iron gates mark your entry to this 480-acre parkland.

I walked. I felt the softness of the pines and the rough edges of the white and red oaks. I discovered the beauty of the leaves of the hemlock (something I'd always associated with witches and their potions) and the perfection of the Japanese maple.

I breathed. I allowed myself to be interrupted by scurrying squirrels and calling birds, falling acorns and skittering leaves. I felt the thought emptying itself of words.

As for the rest, it's in the pictures.

In the soft shade of the conifers.

The ones that stay steadfastly green.

The weeping larch still manages to cheer

When you look down, there is promise to be found

Still, the sun shines through

He stares curiously--or maybe just wearily--at me

The branches seem free, and light, somehow

Gold, gold, gold!

Shades I have no names for

The last cool flames of autumn

The five-pointed leaves of the sweet gum, also known as Witch Hazel

The dark magic of old tree bark

Oh that Japanese maple!

I am many colors at once.

There's music in them shadows

Need I say more?

Time for reflection. 

And if you've stayed with me this far, here are some more pictures from a walk along the Charles River, lined by oaks and elms and maples and the occasional linden. The grey-blue of the water and the iridescence of the sky.

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