Sunday, November 27, 2011

Silent Fall

For days the leaves have been falling. They soon become ground into a wet mulch that makes it's way into the house, the car, the soles of our shoes. They lie in a soupy mix like saturated corn flakes in an enormous bowl that nobody eats or even cleans up. Until today. The first of the city mandated leaf clean-ups happened this morning. When I see my neighbors park their cars and trucks on their front lawns then I know the time has come. Since we don't pay for this needed service, and our landlords are away, we got no forewarning this time. No matter. By 9:00 this morning most of the leaves were gone...momentarily. Must have slept through the tractors with the big cages on them, the small but highly maneuverable street cleaners and the water trucks. And all the while, the leaves keep falling. By tonight it'll be hard to tell the first batch was removed. It's raining now...cornflakes for everyone.
My observations on leaves have much to do with the fact that I live on a street with gigantic, ancient Dutch Elm trees. These trees define the seasons, decorate the neighborhood in every way imaginable, provide shade in the warmer months of summer, and actually keep rain off whatever resides under them. They support an elaborate culture of squirrels and crows, make wonderful silhouettes on moonlit nights, and are responsible for flurries of leaves, pollen, and small branches that rival any dust storm. They exude their aesthetic while snow-covered, dripping wet, or barren. They can be green, yellow white or

brown. Aside from their eco-biological function of being the lungs of the neighborhood, they get people talking. A day never passes when someone walks up the street and comments on some phase of these elm tree's lives.
Still they are fragile. Once a year they require inoculations to prevent disease. For the most part, they outlive us all.

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