Changing Leaves

The dogwood outside the picture window has started to go red at the temples, hints of orange and gold threading through its lofty head where only a week or two ago it was still mostly green. At its foot, squirrels scamper, laden with acorns from the oak tree that straddles the ephemeral property line between us and our neighbors. The acorns don’t care whose yard they drop into, they just fall along with browning handprint-shaped leaves that scatter along the walk and drift down along the slope of the front yard.

The list of things to pick up at the hardware store has increased as a result: rake, yard wagon, gardening gloves. Time keeps slipping away from me and I still haven’t managed to tackle the yard, though we’ve lived here for three weeks now. With the equinox past, it’s starting to get urgent though. The weeds need to be weeded, soil mulched and turned for the winter so that come spring we can plant and rework and make the tumbledown expanse of shrubs and grass in the back into a pleasant oasis of greenery. The hilly front presents more of a challenge that I have vague ideas of meeting with terracing and a profusion of plants to replace the tangle of thin ground cover and wild vines that cover the slope right now.

Regardless of what I do with the yard, the leaves that are starting to rain down more thickly as Fall gets fully into swing need raking and bagging or raking and tossing into a composter. I’m finding that it’s true that houses require more money to keep up. There’s so many little expenses that add up. I wouldn’t trade this for apartment living again, though. The freedom for the kids is worth the price of admission.

They both need jackets now to head off to school in the morning. There’s a bittersweet feeling to that, given that they hardly ever really needed jackets in California. Now not only do they need the lined windbreakers that saw them through most of the winter in the Bay Area, but they need winter coats for the coming deeper cold that will arrive in late November. The changing leaves are a reminder of time passing, a nudge to say: get ready. We’ve left the land of Sun and Fog behind are back in a world where the wheel of the seasons is fully expressed, though we are woefully unprepared for it.