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Monday, October 26, 2015

Friday afternoon

Friday afternoon was warm and clear. The road beckoned, as one might expect a state that is three-quarters hardwood forests to call on a warm autumn day. I thought the leaves would turn later this year but they were on schedule -- reaching peak sometime between my wife's birthday on October 18 and Halloween, inclusive.

The top was down on the Mustang, of course. The shades were on. I told myself I needed something at Dollar General in Cross Lanes. Just what, I would figure out once I got there.

Down past the high school and left through the golf course, down Dairy Road, up the hill, and past the 1960, maybe 1961, Thunderbird that really is a barn find. Someday "American Pickers" may find it.

I punched on Siriusly Sinatra on the satellite radio. A 1962 Sinatra was singing from "Point Of No Return," his last album for Capitol, recorded in two days to fulfill a contract obligation. But he brought back Alex Stordahl, an arranger who helped make him a star 20 years earlier. The album begins with a Johnny Mercer song, "(Ah, the Apple Trees) When the World Was Young." It is Parisian; Edit Piaf first recorded it in 1950.

As I wind down the road, I have no thoughts and barely hear the song -- not because my hearing is bad (it is) but because my mind is elsewhere, in a place I call nowhere. I am not writing. I am not thinking. I am not dreaming. I am in the moment.

The afternoon smells fresh.The leaves are gold and red. There is a maple that turned orange. The colors reflect a wet spring and summer, followed by a dry September and October. It is a rarity, likely

The road is lumpy, asphalt patched over once too often. There are slips as the hills try to shed the road.

The road follows the Pocatalico River for which Poca is named. People think Poca is named for Pocahontas. Nope. The river looks like a pond today as the leaves in the water do not move. As I drive I go back in time 30 years at when I first moved here. It was a trailer park out past Doc Bailey Road. I used to drive through Cross Lanes to get there.

Instead of turning off the paved an winding Doc Bailey Road, I go further up the road to Lanham, which is barely on the map. Dollar General is forgotten. I pass nice houses on large lots and farms, and trailers, and an old trailer that the owner has spray painted to tell passers by that his horses are well-fed and cared for. Evidently someone called the cops on him years ago for the sign has been there a while. There is plenty of flat land along the river.

There is little traffic. And no thoughts. It's a lovely day. There are not many left, this year. Soon teh trees will be denuded and ugly, the hills will be bare, and the top will be up.
Ah, the apple trees,
Blossoms in the breeze,
That we walked among,
Lying in the hay,
Games we used to play,
While the rounds were sung,
Only yesterday, when the world was young.
Sinatra's version.


  1. I was riding along with you there Don. You paint a delightfully graphic vision of an afternoon well spent. Hope all is well with you.

  2. A lovely picture.

    A little "ponder" for you. If I thought about it at all, I think I thought what most people think--the leaves change in response to the cooler temperatures of "Fall".

    The year, here in eastern Nebraska, we have not had any noticeable cooling to speak of (well the past several nights have gotten down to the forties). But the maples and some others started "turning" when we were solid 80s even into the night hours.

    This brought to mind a discussion we had with the tour bus* driver at Denali several years (30? 35? my Lord) where he said the leaves change in response to the sun angle.

    I never read or heard anybody with the appropriate credentials say that but it does make more sense that any other explanation I have heard.


    *When we were at Denali (The National Park has been called that for a long time) you were not allowed to drive POVs in past the entrance-Headquarters area unless you had a camping spot at one of the camp-grounds farther in.

    They had a low-cost (free?) tour-bus program that took you in quite a ways with observation stops at appropriate places. I remember one, to watch a bear chase a squirrel into a hole and then to watch the bear dig it out. The driver pointed out the "sportsman's folly" (my term) in that the bear had expended more energy than the squirrel would provide.

    At the turn-around point the tour provided a picnic lunch before we headed back.

    1. The leaves of trees get their green color from chlorophyll. As long as there is adequate sunlight, trees can produce an abundance of chlorophyll and maintain the green color of their leaves. During fall, as the brightness of the sunlight wanes, in duration as well as strength, the production of chlorophyll declines and then finally ceases. Other colors also present in leaves in lesser amounts come to the fore as the production of chlorophyll declines. The colors and the change in colors of trees are the direct result of sunlight-driven chemical processes that occur in their leaves. It is only indirectly the result of the changing angle of the sun. If you were to cut off the sunlight available to a tree in summer by covering it with a heavy sheet, the leaves would lose their green color for the same reason.

  3. Nothing like a top down day in the Fall.

  4. "Edit Piaf": Edit "Edit". (I just couldn't not do that one!)

    Mighty fine piece of writing, Don. Dang near felt the wind in what hair I have, 'ceptin' I always wear a hat or cap.