September 21, 2010


Tomorrow is the last official day of summer and already the leaves are turning yellow and dropping from the birch tree in my garden. It is the first tree to start shedding and the last to finish. This tall, hulking specimen of 35-40 feet began as a weed which my mother allowed to grow, against my advice. When I bought the house from her years later, I considered cutting it down but decided to do nothing. I’m glad I did. Now that it’s grown, it provides shade in hot weather and screens the view of my neighbor’s bathroom. Keeping it has its consequences, however. It’s turned a sunny garden into a shade garden and as I say, the leaves need attending from the end of summer into winter.

I think of fall as a time of preparation. Soon I will uproot the annuals that are beginning to look straggly, do a final culling of weeds, cover the ground with mulch and take the hoses into the garage to prevent them from being frozen. The change in the weather leads me to know I’ll soon have to make a decision about whether or not to buy candy for Halloween. The ebb and flow of young people in our neighborhood is unreliable. Some years I see a parade of costumes, glittery store-bought designs or homemade ones, usually a sheet with cut outs for eyes.  The last few years, visitors to my door have been few. To tell the truth, last year, no one came. I miss them, these little human leaves that flutter in and out of my life, happy and mysterious. I hope this season will be better.

I wish I could afford to give my trick-or-treaters books instead of candy. A gift of “Wind in the Willows wouldn’t go amiss or “Treasure Island.” And who wouldn’t delight at turning a leaf of “A Wrinkle in Time? At bedtime, these stories so capture the imagination of young minds that the ghosts and goblins hiding in the bedroom shadows are soon forgotten.

That is the wonder of books at any age. On a frosty night, we lie beneath our comforters and they take us far, far away.  Like the trees in our gardens, we prepare to dream.