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A Little Moment Of It’s Not That Bad, Or, Saturday Morning at 7:56am


Come December my back yard used to disappoint my living room. If I snuggled up to nandina I could find a little berry cheer but my beloved now-departed elm tree blocked much of the view from indoors. Even with the leaves had fallen, what I could see through bare branches was often splotched with elm detritus I couldn’t be bothered to remove.

Nothing stirred or salved my soul.

Now the elm is gone I can see autumn itself. Which, contrary to popular belief, does come to Northern California. Our temperatures get cold enough to flip the chlorophyll switches – it’s just that our low-water ecosystems require either leathered leaves too tough for anything so fun as reddening, or big fast-growers that fall off early in the season.

Riparian trees, however, those that grow along creeks and rivers, will turn red and yellow. Maple, elder, alder, birch. Non-native trees we plant near lawns, like my dogwoods, they turn too.

All of which is to say it was a dark day when my old elm fell but some light came later. I even get to watch the leaves fall, plonk, swish, plonk, they are the butterflies of now.

Today I felt like a little It’s Not That Bad, state of the state and all. Perhaps you did too; my garden rallied round. Have a bright weekend. Lights are going up in my neighborhood, the need for twinkle transcends political differences.



33 Responses

  1. Love your comment about the news for twinkle – I think we need to do our decorating this weekend because we also have a need for twinkle! Thanks for the inspiration and Happy Weekend!

    1. @Carol, I agree with you. I hadn’t thought about that, but it’s true, whether you’re a pagan who just wants to bring a little light to the dark or a devout C who is lighting the way for the 3 Kings. I’ll take it.

  2. Not to be a nerd, but I think it’s length of day, not the temperature, that triggers the chlorophyll in trees to retreat for the winter. Rainfall and humidity definitely factor into foliage color intensity — drought years mean dull colors in the Northeast foliage corridor. Noticeable difference.

    1. @Kate M, Oh nerd away! I looked it up before I published this, the reference I saw said it was both temperature and length of day. I left out the length of day just because, well, I worried about being a nerd:)!

  3. Here, the trees are leaf-less now. The dreary winter landscape is upon us. Can’t complain , though, because the other three seasons are so beautiful.

    Enjoy your weekend and keep your chin up.

  4. I must be alone in thinking that the bleak late fall landscape is beautiful. Love all the gold and muted browns. Even the empty fields, brown with narrow rows of former corn stalks, now only a couple of inches high. I love all that. Makes me think of fires in the fireplace, and the possibility of snow.

    1. @Sue Burpee, You’re not alone. I love it as well. This is my favorite time of year. Though there is a lot of green mixed in with the brown where I am. The foothills next to me will soon turn green from their summer yellow, and the tree outside my window is only now turning from green to red and gold. It won’t be bare branches until late December or early January. I love bare black tree branches against an autumn/winter sky.

  5. Lovely. We do have an emphatic autumn, which I love: light, temperature, fragrance, leaves, all of it. Midweek, I took a walk around my neighborhood to look at the few bare trees, the changing leaves, the bright leaves, the contrast of the deciduous and the evergreen, and the palms—i’m near a California mission—and cacti which make me smile. They seem as if they’ve wandered in from Southern California, yet here they are, flourishing. This morning, I looked out at the garden as I drank my daily half cup of coffee. Small golden leaves drifted gently to the ground in waves as I watched, affected by the altering breeze. They did look like butterflies. x.

  6. We are in the midst of a kitchen remodel – everything was down to the studs earlier this week. Funny, in spite of the mess, I am enjoying it all as I see the progress towards the beauty that is to come. I will be putting up drywall today and tomorrow and my handyman will finish it off on Tuesday. Wednesday I will be painting and re-installing baseboards. Thursday and Friday our new carpet comes in. We may not be “show ready” for Christmas but while they are working on the inside of the house, I can “fluff and buff” the front yard landscaping.

    All is well. All is well. Sparkle or not.

    Smiles from Carol

    1. @Carol, I admire your capacity to do some of this yourself. Must make it all the more satisfying.

      I admit I cannot feel all is well. I can only hope we will recover.

  7. Yes applauding the twinkling lights up north here tin Canada too…
    Your views are much brighter now that the elm has fallen…it is a new way of seeing things which must be startling but also a welcome change.

  8. I’m still waiting for our liquid Ambers to start coloring. Not happening down here in Southern California. Tomorrow we start removing many Pine trees that we’re afraid could fall down as it happened last year. The removal of the trees will bring lots of sun to our landscaping. I’m looking forward to planting many beautiful trees where the sunshine can now hit them.

  9. Lisa.BTW – happy to see you using a photo that shows off your “Spring Coloring”. You look fresh and lovely!

    Smiles from Carol

    1. @Carol, So sorry, but what photo do you mean? Also, I’m actually a smoky Summer, or so I understand. My skin’s undertones are blue, not yellow – despite how I appear at first glance! But I appreciate the compliment in any case,

  10. It snowed here yesterday. 6 inches of winter white. The sun came out today and made everything sparkle. By mid-day it was 40 degrees. Quite comfortable. As the sun set temps dropped and now we have a bit of an icy glaze. The snow backdrop makes all the Christmas lights look even more beautiful. Christmas cheer to one and all! Susan

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