Last night it began to snow and it is still snowing now. Monday morning. Veteran’s day. There are still leaves on the big Norway Maples in the back yard. Still yellow leaves scattered across the back gardens that I didn’t have the energy to deal with after my son and I raked up the elm and ash leaves in the front, the refuse of two doomed trees.
The ash is one of the last standing around here, but the emerald ash borers did finally get to it and it is slowly dying, shrinking back each year so that only the middle of it gets leaves at all while the extremities are dead and brittle and break off in high winds or under heavy snow and ice. It is marked with a big red circle of spray paint, like a bullet wound seeping blood, and will be taken down by the city some time in the next year or so. In the meantime, I wouldn’t park under it if I were you.
The elm was an accidental planting, the result of using free mulch several years back. As far as I can work out, someone else was losing an elm tree to some sort of bacteria or fungus and had it cut down and chipped up and that is what the city brought me to mulch with when I inquired about free wood chips the year after the big ice storm took down so many limbs. I’d been expecting chips from dead trees, but this one still had some life in it (and seeds, apparently). So now its progeny grows at the confluence of three property lines and no one took it down when it was a sapling and manageable. At some point in the next five or ten years, it will start to die and we’ll all have to chip in to remove it. Though I’m pretty sure it’s my fault to begin with.
This spring I planted some trees on purpose. Three varieties of Japanese maple, a Japanese cherry, and one little redbud that was just a weed on the other side of the fence, which I transplanted to my garden and watched carefully all summer (they do not like to be moved). And now all those little baby trees are gathering snow in their bare arms, saving it to drink later when we have a warm-up. Which we will. The ten-day forecast includes several days that reach 40 degrees. Rain is predicted. I may yet get all those yellow maple leaves up, even if they are wet.
There are still a few other chores to do. I must wrap my new sky pencil holly in burlap. I must remove the bamboo fountain and the water pump, which I meant to do this weekend but forgot in my exhaustion and my desire to finish reading a book. I did manage to remember to get the cover on the outdoor furniture.
As we enter the season of cold and snow and ice and clouds I am content. I feel a release of breath. A busy season is ending. A shivering, staying-put-and-reading-and-writing one has begun. I have a few more events this month to support the release of The Words between Us, but nothing scheduled until March of next year (and no intention to put anything on the calendar before that month). I have a book that has steadily made its way from my brain into the tips of my fingers over the past year and is ready to be written. I have cozy slippers and a wood-burning fireplace and a small dog that lives to cuddle.
So yeah, I’m ready for winter. Even if the yard’s not.
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