Column: Autumn is when every leaf is a flower

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Al Batt, Tales from Exit 22

Sweaters, lutefisk feeds and soup and pie suppers at churches.

As the distinctive V-shaped formations of Canada geese fly overhead, a young man&8217;s thoughts turn to heavier jackets.

Stanley Horowitz wrote, &8220;Winter is an etching, spring a watercolor, summer an oil painting and autumn a mosaic of them all.&8221; Robert Frost said that the days of autumn are as beautiful as days can be.

The sounds of an exhausted summer inform us that the season we do best, autumn, is about to arrive. The sounds of summer have become rare. Birdsong becomes subdued. Many of our fine feathered friends leave us and migrate south. Huge winding flocks of blackbirds persist, making music across our fields. Like us, summer never accomplishes all that it sets out to. Tomatoes never all quite pass green. Soon leaves will flutter down like confetti. Leaves in a thousand different hues will lie at my feet. Albert Camus commented, &8220;Autumn is a second spring when every leaf is a flower.&8221;

I love the fall. It&8217;s a time that prevents summer from slamming into winter. Fall is everything but enough. Life could never be long enough to hold all the fall days I would like to enjoy. I adore the big maple in our yard when its leaves turns to ketchup. I want to photograph each leaf. The goldenrods become plants touched by Midas. I watch for woolly bear caterpillars crossing the roads. The color of this caterpillar form of the Isabella tiger moth is supposed to indicate the harshness of the coming winter. A dark-colored woolly bear means a bad winter and a light-colored wooly worm indicates a mild winter. I keep an eye out for the dark-eyed juncos.

Folklore says that the first snowfall will occur six weeks after the appearance of this snowbird.

We partner with fall to harvest its bounty. We can&8217;t decide whether to put the garden to bed or to sleep.

William Cullen Bryant&8217;s &8220;Death of the Flowers&8221; said, &8220;The melancholy days are come, the saddest of the year, of wailing winds and naked woods, and meadows brown and sere.&8221;

We hope for an Indian summer to arrive in late October or early November, when there are treasured mild days of fair weather following autumn&8217;s first period of cold, wintry days.

I grew up under a canopy of aged oaks, maples, basswoods, walnuts and elms. The fall season involved weeks of beauty as, tree by tree, the leaves went through their various rainbows, before finally falling to the ground. It wasn&8217;t always picture-postcard perfect, but it was always eye candy. Even the worst of natural colors would put Picasso to shame. Charles Dickens observed,

&8220;Nature gives to every time and season some beauties of its own.&8221;

All too soon, the leaves begin to whisper among themselves in the breeze; well on their way to becoming brown memories. Malati Shah wrote, &8220;Reaching down, you pick a bright autumn leaf. Between thumb and forefinger; both joy and grief.&8221;

Not to beat a dead leaf, but there are some years when fall isn&8217;t a season; it&8217;s but a magic afternoon.

Nevertheless, it&8217;s still magic.

Humpty Dumpty had a great fall.

I hope you do as well.

From the mailbag

I asked: Who do you like better, Roy Rogers or Gene Autry?

Stan Fitz wrote: &8220;Roy Rogers. Roy had pretty Dale Evans to look at. Roy&8217;s horse was faster. Gene Autry had lumpy Smiley Burnett to look at. Gene was not a good fighter, he got his hat knocked off once.&8221;

Karen Evenson: &8220;The Lone Ranger was a far better hero versus Roy and Gene. Something better about a fictional person doing fictional deeds than a real person doing fictional deeds.&8221;

Pam Goehring: &8220;Gene Autry was better than Roy Rogers. And I should know &8212; I was married to him. When we were little the pecking order for &8216;being someone&8217; was my older cousin, her younger sister, then me. So Candace was Dale Evans, Rachel was Annie Oakley and who was left for me &8212; I was Mrs. Gene Autry.&8221;

Kay Madsen: &8220;While I always enjoyed the Gene Autry movies because, in my youth, I could see him for 10 cents on a Saturday afternoon. My most favorite was Roy Rogers. For one thing, he had that beautiful wife, Dale, and a really great horse, Trigger, who could do tricks.&8221;

Harold: &8220;Gene Autry gets my vote as favorite. I guess it is because of his songs like &8216;Back in the Saddle Again,&8217; &8216;South of the Border Down Mexico Way,&8217; &8216;Mexicali Rose&8217; and more. I still have to stop what I am doing when any of those songs hit my ear and turn my thoughts back to those years.&8221;

Bob Johnson: &8220;I enjoyed your column about things we miss. I miss the old drive-in movie, the old department stores and cruising Main. I miss a restaurant that served the best hamburger I&8217;ve ever eaten.&8221;

(Hartland resident Al Batt&8217;s columns appear in the Tribune every Wednesday and Sunday.)