LOCAL VIEW –Fall Peepers–

There is always a danger of missing the beauty right before your nose, especially if you take it for granted. I’m sure people who live with spectacular views can get up in the morning and look out the window and say, “The Matterhorn…Ho hum.” In such cases it helps a little to have people come from all over the world to see what you take for granted.

But then there is a new danger of acting as a sort of prop to the scenery. Years ago I lived with a Navajo in Arizona, and I used to kid him about a stoic expression he always assumed when tourists snapped pictures, and with a bit of a smile he’d inform me, “That is how Indians are suppose to look. Check out Arizona Highways magazine.”

I remembered him years later when I was raking leaves off the beaten path for a rich lady, using an old fashioned rake rather than a leaf-blower, and much to my surprise saw a bus come swaying and lurching down the lane, barely squeezing between the old stone walls. The upper part of the bus was largely glass, and on the inside I could see all the tourists, who I assumed were from Japan, were all pressed up against the glass snapping pictures of me, the quaint Yankee raking leaves. As hard as I tried to be natural, I found myself assuming a pose, and felt like a picture in National Geographic.

A third way to miss the beauty is to rate it. No two autumns are the same, and some have briefer beauty, because a gale rips all the leaves off the trees, while others have a browner beauty, because of drought. Rather than appreciating the variety I sometimes look back to the year which was the most brilliant, and become comparative.

The second half of the summer was so wet that all were expecting an especially brilliant autumn. But brilliance is dependent on sunshine. As I took the kids from the Childcare out on a daily walk I’d look over across a pond to the swamp maples, which are the the first to change, and see the amazing growth of color in the sun.

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But then a passing cloud would drape a shadow

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I prefer the colors to stand out, and a part of me called the second view downright dingy. But this would make a liar out of the part of myself that states the beauty is there for eyes to see, so I strove to see it. But then I was put to the test, as we were hit by a long spell of various sorts of gloom, cloud, drizzle and dampness.  Even as the foliage grew more brilliant the weather grew more gloomy.

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I figured I’d likely miss the swamp maples at their most brilliant, and have to wait for the sugar maples, but then I noticed the weather was so wet the sugar maple leaves were rotting as much as they were changing color.

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Then I heard motorcycles roar past one gray morning, and knew for them to be out leaf-peeping it had to be dry, though very gray, and as I headed off to do chores in an adjoining town I made plans to sidetrack into some swamps. I had a sense it was “now or never”.

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All you need to do is pull over and slosh a little into the sedge to have the color engulf you.

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If you are not careful you may become enchanted, wander into hidden valleys, and go unseen for twenty years like Rip Van Winkle.

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Soon you forget CNN or Drudge. You are visiting a utterly different swamp.

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And once you have found beauty on a cloudy day, a clear day is sheer heaven.

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LOCAL VIEW –The Glory Days–

One of my daughters has a way of choosing just the perfect boyfriend to test my spirituality. I tend to breathe deeply, in a seething manner, when I first hear of her latest friend, but I think God forgives me, for mostly I remain mute. Then, after a great deal of spiritual endeavor on my part, just when I’m getting over whatever prejudice was stirred up, and am starting to really like the fellow, he suddenly is history, and I am introduced to the next poor fool aspirant.

After too much of such soap operatic doings, (seventeen years),  I find it hard to get as excited, or even as interested, as I used get when my daughter was thirteen. I’ve been worn down. The latest fellow is an illegal immigrant from Brazil. Big deal. I just sort of nodded from my computer when he first came into the house, until my wife gave me a hidden kick. Only then did I remember it is polite to shake hands and look interested.

But one interesting thing about the fellow is he had never seen leaves change before. He didn’t live far enough south in Brazil to see the occasional Antarctic frosts and snows of their far south, and had grown up where leaves pretty much stay green.  He was startled, even a little alarmed, to be driving about (without a licence) and see very strange things happen to all the trees. fol-1-img_4015

It is odd how you can take such beauty for granted, if you’ve seen it most of your life. I was glad I had an outsider to remind me to get out see the view. One place I like to go is the flat-lands of the Sharon Stretch (a good place to drive over 100 mph late at night, unless you meet a moose coming out of the swamp).fol-2-img_4017

It was so beautiful I forgot my errand, and got out to wander into the swamp’s blueberry barrens.fol-3-img_4018

It’s a good place to get the blue and orange reflected below, as well as above.

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These trees are called “swamp maples” and always seem to be the first to change, perhaps because the cold settles into the lowlands first. I call the flaring of color in the swamps “candy autumn” because it is sweeter, brighter and warmer than when the cold really starts to hit and hold.

Once I was out I wanted to stay out, but I had to get back and work. Back at the Childcare many trees were still green, but a swamp maple (which gets called a “red maple”, when they root outside a swamp), was peeking from the oaks.

Unfortunately I couldn’t even hang out with the kids, and see if they appreciated the beauty or just took it for granted, because I have tax problems to deal with. Nothing like sitting indoors and gnawing a pencil to make you appreciate your own back yard.

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