Monday, November 23, 2009

'We all fall down . . .'


"In the Warm Sunlight of the Fall " by Weiming Zhao 


We moved from Texas to Minnesota in the fall of 1987, just in time to see a Midwest show of autumnal colors. I remember leaves falling in Texas and raking to do. But I'd never seen such a colorful decamping of leaves in my life until we moved to Minneapolis.


The fact that I did not have a car accident that first year is a miracle. I could barely keep my eyes on the road as I drove down the towering elm tree-lined streets of the little village we chose called Linden Hills, aptly named after yet another lovely tree. All I wanted was to stare upwards, to see the brilliant colors against the rich blue sky.


We still have a remarkable number of elm trees, though each year, sadly, many fall prey to Dutch elm disease. Still, the stunning canopy of color they create in fall and again in spring can truly drive you to distraction.


Reading Pamela and Edward's delightful post on Nov 21 about tree trickery in her neighborhood reminded me of a similar experience we had last month along the stretch of West 44th Street that is lined with prehistoric-looking Ginkos.



Such odd trees, those Ginkos. Even when they're fully leafed out, they look as if they forgot to fill in the space between branches with a few extra offshoots. And for as old as their species is, they are remarkably delicate when it comes to reacting to Minnesota's change of seasons.


Some years they mellow to a warm citrine if the temperature cools slowly. And as the wind picks up, they fall just like all the other trees. Other years, they attain yellow only to fall in unison with the first cold snap.


But this year was a first for me.


Before the month of October had reached its midpoint, I woke up to see a sweet little dusting of snow. I left for a volunteer engagement around 9:30, and when I returned by 11, the snow had mostly melted in the sunlight. Of course, I wondered right away how the Ginko trees would react.


And that's when I saw this:



And this:



And this:





Ginko leaves everywhere! A carpet of them.


I don't have the greatest sense of smell, but I know it was intense. And the best way I can describe it is "green." The scent of green was even strong enough to overpower the less-than-pleasant smell of the fruit that certain of the trees produce.


Most of the Ginko leaves have been raked away now, though there's always a few leaves that cling for dear life through the winter.


Good luck little Ginko leaves! Until we meet again in spring . . .



17 comments:

Julie B. said...

Love the pictures!

Gaston Studio said...

I LOVE that painting!

We have two ginkgo trees in our yard and I love them. Under both are layer upon layer of bright yellow leaves, much like that little Volkswagon bug. I've never seen them drop their leaves while still green so this is an unusual sight for me and a beautiful one.

Oh, we also have yellow gingko leaves throughout the house as they get tracked in so easily! They go quite well with the hardwoods!

jinksy said...

That's the best living carpet I've ever seen...

Jennifer Griffin-Wiesner said...

What great photos! How fun that you take the time to notice and document such things. :-)

ellen abbott said...

That was just amazing, to have dropped their leaves like that in an hour and a half! I have two ginkos in my yard here at the country house and they still have most their leaves which are still mostly green.

J said...

Anyone else want to roll around and kick those leaves?! I don't think we have those trees here, feeling a bit jealous.

Pamela Terry and Edward said...

Amazing! At least my leaves had the decency to wait till they had changed colour!! What a sight that must have been, and you're right, I bet everything even smelled green!

Lovely painting, too!

Hilary said...

Wow.. that's just incredible. I don't think I've ever seen a carpet of green leaves before. It's beautiful in a sad sort of way.

Grace Albaugh said...

Thanks for sharing that painting. It's really lovely.

The poor Ginko trees. It's as if they were frightened and just lost it.

erin said...

I've never heard of a tree that loses its green leaves. That is so weird...and beautiful! Thanks!

Joanna said...

Ginkos are just so lovely. I've never seen them drop their leaves like that though. In our neck of the woods they turn golden first. Fascinating.

Alix said...

Ginko leaves!!! I never knew. And I just love the carpet of them all over the ground. So pretty.

By the way, Kathleen... Happy Thanksgiving! I am so happy our paths crossed this year. I consider you a dear and wonderful friend, and I love you much.

Have a wonderful blessed holiday!

Derrick said...

Hi Kathleen,

Amazing indeed and lucky you could get the snaps so soon after the event. I'm not familiar with these trees except for them being mentioned in several posts recently.

Sande said...

Never ever have I seen a carpet of green leaves like that. If a mess of tree matter was to be on the ground, it was usually every color other than green.

Definitely not same old, same old today ... :}

Janie said...

That's the interesting thing about nature - you never know what you're gonna get (box of chocolates philosophy). Strange that the ginko sheds at different stages every year. You got great photos of that green carpet.

Barb said...

Your photos of the Ginko leaves are magic! I also enjoyed reading the Mary Oliver poem, "Rice" I have several of her books but don't remember that poem.

Suldog said...

Wow. Those are really cool photos. Never have smelled Ginko fruit. I guess I'm lucky?

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