Autumn is in session. Bright leaves twirl through the crisp air and frantic squirrels hell-bent on storing anything which isn't nailed down criss-cross the lawn in byzantine patterns. The sturdy pink begonias in the old zinc planter are tattered, the unhappy battle ground for walnut turf wars - multiple nuts buried, stolen and reburied in the space of a week. The lawn looks like the aftermath of a divot festival. I was once left briefly in charge of an award-winning garden which centred around a perfect rectangle of creeping bent (greens) grass. Finding the precious turf torn apart one morning, I called the police to report a clear act of vandalism. That evening I made a point of casually sauntering past the scene of the crime, hoping to catch the culprit. And I did. The skunk wafted past me and ambled back into the darkness. That night’s phone call to the police was tougher than the first. I have learned to take divots in my stride.
Autumn may be a good-bye but there is something of the firebird in it. This year there was some question about whether the fall colours would appear after such a dry summer but my sugar maple near the garage is resplendent. Yes, you read that right. The dark secret of our marriage: Jon and I have separate trees. If this could be construed a contest, I win. Although I campaigned for its murder from the beginning, Jon defended his black locust's birthright to grow to seventy feet; not the smartest arboreal in the forest, it chose to grow away from the sun and finally had to be removed at great cost when it inexplicably chose to loom to the north over our house. In contrast, my straight and splendid maple has been a solid citizen, shading the patio and brightening my October heart. The vicious rumour that it kills Jon’s rhododendrons is just that. My maple and I are very happy together.
And so the year turns, each season outdoing the last. I can never decide on a favourite. Living on the equator must be so dull.