Thursday, November 5, 2009

Tree Pranks

Gambel oak leaves

You could call it a dusting though it was more like a smattering -- the here and there evidence of a stratospheric pastry chef passing by this morning and scattering fine particles of the first snow of the season. Slightly more than the twelve flakes constituting last year's initial "storm," like powdered sugar on warm doughnuts, it's melting fast.

While early winter has already arrived in the mountains, we're still at the fag end of autumn in the mid-coast countryside and leaves are falling from the oak in my yard and its cousins bordering the hayfield. Growing up, it struck me as curious when someone mentioned the "mighty oak," because all I'd ever seen was the short, shrubby variety called Scrub Oak that looks more like a hedge than a tree. Here in Maine, it's a different story and the one next to the house climbs to nearly forty feet.

I have a love-hate relationship with that tree and I suspect it's mutual. I love the shade in summer and the colors in autumn -- the leaves that leave my yard buried over and over are something else. Twice this week I've raked and blown, packing piles off to the forest wrapped in a large tarp. And the next day they're back, though not the same ones, of course.

A few feet from the oak is a Butternut tree and I've decided these two are partners in crime. They stand there, quiet and unassuming, while I labor away and when I'm not looking, one winks conspiratorially at the other and whispers, "Hold onto your leaves -- when it's dark, we'll get him again." Now, it's entirely possible they like my company but truthfully, I think they're just messing with me. Sigh, tree pranks, you know?

(Image via Wikipedia)
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