Notes on the Atrocities
Like a 100-watt radio station, broadcasting to the dozens...

Wednesday, October 08, 2003  

Next Wednesday I'm off to Vermont for a wedding. It's the last weekend of the traditional "foliage season"--though this year, foresters are hopeful of an extended season. They categorize regions as "peak" or "very near peak," as if rating a comic book collection. The Vermont tourism board even has an animation approximating the exact moment of leaf color nirvana. I work with a Bostonian and I'm married to a Mainer, so I have to spend a fair amount of time each autumn listening to impromptu odes to the leaves. Needless to say, they don't find the Oregon foliage stacks up very well.

Maybe it's because we live in the region of conifers--Douglas firs, despite their beauty, don't put on an October show. Sure, there are vine maples and dogwoods, but apparently, these pale in comparison to New England's deciduous diversity. And then there's the mulch. Sad to say, but the color of the trees comes with the rain. The first showers of both fell this weekend, clogging gutters and drains. In a few weeks, the leaves will come down in clots and coat the cement in a layer of spongy pulp. The piles of leaves on lawns will be filled with slugs and sodden; definitely not the place you want to be rolling around in. The leaves themselves also seem to suffer from the slow, wet season. In some norther climes--well, Vermont, say--a cold snap seems to send a shudder of color through the leaves. Here they just kind of rot on the tree, splotchy and a bit pale.

There are trade offs. It's not that cold, for beginners (the New Englanders praise the fall but don't mention the winter). And, after the long, dry summer, the Oregon foliage goes through its own transformation. Roses have an autumn bloom; lawns turn emerald. I'm a fan of the clouds, and these settle down mistily over the city (Californians find it oppressive, but what do they know?). The transition to fall is something to relish in Oregon, but New Englanders seem to find it wanting. Soon, I'll have something to which to compare it.

Bets, anyone?

posted by Jeff | 3:48 PM |
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