One of my four favorite seasons
Ever wonder why leaves change color in the fall? Not me. I don’t concern myself with that scientific-chemistry-type stuff.
Actually, I do once in a while. The experts out there say leaves changing color has to do with chlorophyll, which helps the tree make food and is responsible for the green color in leaves. With fewer hours of sunlight during autumn, chlorophyll begins breaking down, which allows other colorful pigments like yellows and oranges to be revealed.
There you have it folks. Science is astounding.
But when I think of fall, jumping in leaf piles as a kid comes to mind. I can’t say I was the most dutiful little worker bee when it came to doing chores around the house, but the three of us kids would help out here and there.
We each had our little roles, mine of course being the brains of the outfit — though my siblings might try to convince you otherwise.
The family homestead was, and still is, surrounded by forest, mainly hardwoods, so there were plenty of leaves that found their way down to our yard. We youngsters would help my parents rake them into a mound, then we’d grab a football and make dramatic diving endzone catches to score the game-winning touchdown, or we’d simply leap on in, as if jumping into a snowbank or lake.
It was cheap entertainment for us kids. From my parents’ perspective, they’d probably say it was “poor workmanship.”
Those fun times of diving in head first are long gone for me. If I were to gather the leaves into a pile from the yard I have now and jump in, I’d probably break a bone, sprain a wrist or at the very least plop my face into some week-old dog poop I neglected to pick up. Tino is a beagle-Boston terrier mix, but sometimes his droppings resemble those of much larger breeds.
I’ve neglected some of the yard work and bigger landscaping projects I said I was going to do this summer, and I should probably cut the grass once more before the leaves fall. But the fact is, chores around the house aren’t quite as fun when I’m the one who has to get them done.
That’s probably how my parents felt about raking leaves, or doing other tasks in preparation of winter.
We grew up heating the family home with fuelwood, and the process of cutting and splitting usually started in late summer or early fall. My dad would run the chainsaw and the rest of us would move logs to the saw horse where he’d cut them into manageable lengths. When that stage was finished, we’d fire up the gas-powered splitter and start stacking what was left over.
I remember sawdust everywhere, surprise spider attacks and the occasional snake in the woodpile, splinters, scrapes, dirt and more itchy, scratchy sawdust.
It made for some pretty long days under the blue skies and the hot late-August sun. I remember waiting for the chainsaw or the splitter to run out of gas, hoping dad would release us from our grueling work detail. But he must like work more than me, because he always kept a couple gallons on standby in the garage, and we’d start the process all over again.
Looking back, I know it was a good thing he ran the show and not me. I’d probably still be cutting and splitting when the snow flies.
Summer officially ends early Monday morning when most of us will be asleep, and the season of beautiful vibrant colors begins anew. From what we’ve seen this past week, though, it seems like summer 2019 is holding on till the very end, swinging like a prizefighter who refuses to go down. That’s fine by me. I haven’t quite said goodbye to the beach or the backyard barbecues yet.
I’m no meteorologist, but the warm weather as of late had me questioning my calendar, thinking June or even July might be a more appropriate time of year for our recent clime. Naturally, though, I’m an observant person, and I could tell from my internal clock that the duration of daylight was diminishing, indicating a shift in our Earth’s axis and, hence, fewer hours of direct sunlight. By that deduction, I knew the calendar couldn’t be incorrect, and we were indeed nearing the autumnal equinox and, eventually, the cold white winter.
I’d suspect few of us are ready for that season just yet. Autumn, though, really isn’t all that bad. Out of the whole year, it’s probably in the top four of my all-time favorite seasons.
The air is crisp, we get to enjoy football games, apple cider and pumpkin pie, and there’s also the smell of death and decay flourishing from our forestlands and those falling leaves.
Halloween is quite likely my favorite unofficial holiday, so there’s that, and the cooler temperatures — though not so much lately — are more suitable for my hot-blooded constitution.
If only the leaves would keep their colors and remain on the trees so I wouldn’t have to rake them. They could stay there all winter, then in the springtime, they’d magically transform back to that familiar green, flush with chlorophyll.
It’s a nice thought, though probably unlikely.
But who knows? Maybe it could happen. I’m no dendrologist.
EDITOR’S NOTE: Ryan Jarvi is city editor at The Mining Journal. He lives in Marquette with his wife, Sarah, and their dog Tino. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.