October 24, 2013
There are a lot of things I like about the house I now live in, but this red maple tree in my front yard may be my favorite.
(The color of the sky is accurate, but the leaves are even more vibrant in person.)
Before I lived in this city, I lived in the epicenter of foliage, the kind of destination to which leaf peepers make pilgrimages. And my house was surrounded by trees on all sides. It was glorious. There are a lot of things I don’t miss about that place, but at this time of year, I do miss the leaves.
I grew up in a place with no foliage whatsoever. Many trees weren’t deciduous, and the ones that did lose their leaves in autumn just seemed to turn brown. In high school biology class when we were learning about the leaf cycle, the teacher pointed out that the new girl had just moved from New Jersey. We all clamored around her, bombarding her with questions about the foliage. It was as if she’d just moved from Jupiter.
There are two things I really love about winter. #1: Walking outside in the morning after a big snowfall and trying to identify the animal tracks. In my previous locale, I did not love the snow that stuck around for months and months, and mostly I vastly prefer winter in my current city where the snow almost always melts instantly (and where we sometimes get days in the 60s or 70s). But, it was wondrous when I lived in the forest and tried to track all of the visitors who’d passed through my driveway that morning. Deer, rabbits, birds, squirrels, mice, beavers, woodchucks. There were some animals that I almost never saw, but they all left their mark. I loved solving the puzzle of the footprints, and I loved imagining them walking/running/hopping around my driveway while I was asleep.
#2: Super giant snowflakes. I’ve never seen them in this city, and only a couple of times in my last home; really only a handful of times in my life. My first time was during my first year of college, when I moved from a place where it never snows to a place where it snows plenty. One January day I was sitting in sociology class, and I looked out the window and there were marvelous, enormous snowflakes. Really enormous — some were as large as an inch in diameter. They danced through the air. It was like a cartoon version of snow. Everyone kept watching them dance. Even the students who came from snowy places were mesmerized. Our poor professor and Durkheim just couldn’t compete.
In the spring, daffodils are my absolute favorite. My appreciation largely stems from learning Wordworth’s poem as a child. When Burrito and Tamale were small, instead of telling them nursery rhymes, I’d recite poetry. When I was pushing them in the stroller in the spring, any time we’d pass daffodils, I was compelled to recite the whole poem. There are other flowers I enjoy too, but there’s something unique about daffodils that “my heart with pleasure fills.”
And in the summer, even though I grew up very close to the ocean, I don’t particularly care for the beach. I don’t like sand, I don’t like hot weather, I don’t like bathing suits, and I am unimpressed by flat coastlines. I do like the sounds of the waves, and I enjoy watching the surfers, but what really floats my boat are the hills and lakes of the Pacific NW. I shot the photo below just a few blocks from my house at the time; when I would come around a bend, or over the crest of the hill, and be confronted by a view like this, it got me every time.
What are your favorite aspects of nature?