9:18:13 Autumn Leaves

We're a few days away from my favorite season of the year: Fall. The days stay dark later in the morning; go dark earlier in the evening. And most characteristically, a certain dry coolness, so unlike spring and summer's ripe fecundity says, Fall is in the air.

I'm not sure when I first decided Fall was my favorite season, but I think it was weekend camping in Southern California. I noted the best experiences were invariably in the fall. The weather tended to be sunny, but sans the blazing heat of summer. No crowds: Kids were back in school. I had the sense anybody camping in the "off-season" of Fall must be serious about communing with Nature: Not a distracting tape player was heard.

The changes of autumn in Oregon are more pronounced, of course, than those in Southern California. For one thing, we have a lot more deciduous trees that drop leaves.


In fact, if Fall as a season has one complication, it is the leaves in the street. Winter has bad driving weather and slippery ice. Spring has surprising showers and annoying pollen. Summer has hot weather.

But fall is like a choreographed production. Chlorophyll production dries up, plants go to sleep, and the equinoctial winds bring the leaves down in mesmerizing inevitability.

Face it, other seasons are unpredictable. Will this be the year of ice storms in Portland? Last winter was not. This spring, will I suffer crippling pollen allergies? This year, no. Next summer, will it reach 106 in Portland? This summer, it didn't break 100.

Only Fall delivers.

And what do we get from it?

There is the annual chore of getting out the leaf blower and sweeping everything into the streets for pickup (a topic I posted about here). Bicyclists best, however, avoid riding through piled leaves, tempting as it might be. A crash-happy branch or rock might lurk under those leaves.

But for me, leaves piled in the street, wet, and spread about like so much street mulch, an opportunity presents itself to test car brakes. Safer than doing the same thing on ice or snow, you suddenly apply your brakes on a bed of wet leaves and--voila!--the car slides and the ABS goes judder, judder, judder.

Plus when the leaves dry out and are crisp and you then drive through them, forward motion swirls leaves about car wheel wells with the same mesmerizing quality as the leaves dropping singly, one by one, from branches of the overhead trees.

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The Cat at Light's End

Read Charlie Dickinson's story collection, The Cat at Light's End, as an ebook in these downloadable formats:

.mobi (Kindle)
.epub (most other readers)
.pdf (for PCs)

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