Pondering the Season
When I was a growing up in Central Minnesota, the onset of autumn was my favorite time of year. Those first days with the slightest nip in the air meant an end to the oppressive heat and humidity of summer. They also foreshadowed cold, swirling snow, but that was far enough in the future that I wouldn’t worry about it. Instead, I enjoyed the return of sweater weather and the colorful leaves. Since we were out on a farm, we never worried about raking leaves. Returning to school also meant fewer chores. Undoubtedly, my family has less generous memories of autumn. Preparing a farm for winter is never fun, but I was spared much of that. I was much more focused on the future and lazy days to be spent curled in a corner with my beloved books.
After college, I made the big move to California. It must be noted that I probably did not give the decision to move the attention it deserved. California always seemed to be the ultimate destination. Who could complain about a location with no snow? As always, benefits come at a cost. It was several years before I realized that the cost I had incurred was the loss of my beloved autumn. It was several more years before I realized that autumn does show itself in Southern California. Subtlety is not something one expects from this region, but a Southern California autumn is undeniably subtle. Some trees change colors, but the spectacular reds and oranges are few and far between. One neighbor used to have several Liquid Amber trees in his backyard. They were a reliable indicator of autumn. Since they also had the undesirable habit of shedding their leaves in our backyard, I was not sorry to see them go.
The main indicator that we now have of autumn is our Persimmon tree. Some years we only see a few, lonely fruit on the branches. Other years we are taunted by many fruit only to see them pecked away by birds. This year, we have a tremendous harvest and few birds taking the best fruit from us. Our Persimmon tree stands in our front yard. It is not an especially lovely tree. Truthfully, it is a gangly specimen that loses most of its leaves well before harvest time. Fruit that is not picked quickly enough drops onto the ground creating a very messy, orange splotch. However, years like this redeem the tree. We picked several of the fruit just before Halloween to ensure that our visiting ghouls and goblins were not injured by walking into the branches pulled low by the heavy globes. We also picked the fruit that were threatening the roof with orange splats. Still, the tree was full of gorgeous, deep orange fruit for Halloween. It has even earned the nickname of The Pumpkin Tree.
Now, I present, autumn, Southern California style.