Fall is a good time to appreciate the trees

Published 8:40 am Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Fall is a seasonal Paul Revere.

“Winter is coming! Winter is coming!” it warns.

King Solomon said it first, but the Byrds had the hit song, “To everything — turn, turn, turn. There is a season — turn, turn, turn. And a time for every purpose under heaven.”

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Richard Wilbur wrote, “Hot summer has exhausted her intent to the last rose, roundelay and seed. No leaf has changed, and yet these leaves now read like a love-letter that is no longer meant.”

Edmund Spenser wrote his “Faerie Queen” in 1576, in which he personified each season. “First came lusty Spring in all dight (dressed) in leaves of flowers. Then came jolly Sommer, being dight in a thin silken cassock coloured green. Then came Autumne, all in yellow clad, as though he joyed in his plenteous store, laden with fruits that made him laugh, full glad that he had banisht hunger, which to-fore had by the belly oft pinched him sore. Lastly came Winter, cloathed all in frize, chattering his teeth for cold that did him chill.” Edmund was one of the early rappers.

Since the 16th century the seasons have been described thusly, “Spring tyme, Somer, Faule of the leafe and Winter.” Fall originates in the English language, while autumn comes from the Latin. In Germany, this season is called herbst or harvest. In England, it is referred to as haerfest, harvest time or harvest home. Fall arrives on the Autumn Equinox, that time of the year when day and night are of equal length.

Welcome to those lazy, hazy, crazy days of fall. Fall is the time of the big soybean and corn roundup. Fall is when snow blower ads bully lawnmower ads out of the way.

Growing up, fall was not only the time of harvest, it was when we put up the storm windows. The screens came down and went off to a resting place. It was a time for working the ground in preparation for the next year. We were told that the worst job of tillage done in the fall was better than the best job done in the spring.

My neighbor Crandall stops by each year and declares, “Let’s drive around and watch the leaves die.” Crandall has a difficult time accepting the fact that summer has ended. He has leaf needs. He duct tapes fallen leaves to the branches of trees.

Fall moves swiftly, too fast my wishes. Fall comes dressed in the latest colorful fashions. Mother Nature employs her paintbrush over the land to produce a new painting. As the leaves are given pink slips by the trees, we are given a patina of yellows, browns and reds in a landscape on its way to becoming gray. A carpet of leaves is a colorful gift from a tree that provided us with shade during the dog days of summer. Raking fallen leaves brings us into contact with beauty beyond words — a reminder not to forget the shade tree when the heat is past.

Fall is the perfect occasion to recall the words of Ralph Cushman, “I love a tree, a brave upstanding tree! When I am wearied in the strife, beaten by the storms and bruised by life,

I look at a tree and it refreshes me! If it can keep its head held high and look the storms straight in the eye, ready to stand or ready to die, then by the grace of God so can I! At least with heaven’s help, I’ll try. I love a tree for it refreshes me! I love a tree! When it seems dead, its leaves all shorn and bared of head; when winter flings its cold and snow, it stands there undismayed by woe; it stands there waiting for the spring, a tree is such a believing thing. I love a tree for it refreshes me.”

There are warm days in the fall. Summer does not leave without a backward glance. Fall brings frost. My mother told me that frost makes coffee smell better. My father said that snow geese carried the snow on their backs and that juncos brought predictions of snow.

Combines march through the fields, the harvesting machines providing sounds so autumn-specific that they bathe me in fallness. Fall comes with good intentions. It is a victim of circumstances in that is followed by winter. Fall is a time when we remind one another that the weather will soon become worse.

My neighbor Crandall removed the rearview mirror of his truck so that when spring arrives, he won’t be able to see winter behind him.

Fall is the season when we hear the common refrain, “Too bad we can’t save weather like this for January.”

Hartland resident Al Batt’s columns appear every Wednesday and Sunday.