Thursday, November 09, 2006
The leaves are almost gone here, and though we have had a few days of Indian Summer this week, winter is in the air today. Earlier in the fall we raked up a big pile of leaves to jump in, but I never bagged it up, and most of them have just blown away! Autumn in South Dakota!
Yesterday my mom wrote an email about fall leaves and it reminded me of something. On the grounds of their beautiful Hood River home, my parents had several big Horse Chestnut Trees. These were enormous old trees with a huge trunk, big leaves, and odd pokey balls. In her email my mom mentioned that those trees seemed to lose all their leaves over night. She mentioned the time a friend slept over, and the next morning when she headed to her car, it was completely buried in leaves. Reading about those leaves reminded me of something so strange, that I have wondered if I really saw it, or if I just imagined it.
My old room at that home had windows around 3 sides, and some branches of the tree came right up to the house there. In this picture all those windows on the 2nd floor were my room, and you can see the big tree to the left of the house - it's branches over and above the roofline.
I was visiting my parents one fall when Hannah was a baby, and we were staying in my old room. The sun was up, but Hannah was still sleeping, and I knew if I moved she would wake up. I was being held captive in my day-bed by a 10 pound little girl! The only thing to do was cuddle down look out the window.
The big leaves of that chestnut tree had turned yellow, and I started to notice something odd. Leaves were starting to fall off the tree, but they were not being blown off. And they didn't just drop off, they seemed to wiggle off, one at a time.
The leaves of the chestnut tree are like fingers - 5 leaves joined together on one thick stem - here is a picture of the leaves and the chestnut pods:
There was no wind that morning, but every couple seconds one leaf would kind of lift itself up by the stem, and then it would release from the branch and fall down. I watched this happen over and over again, with baby Hannah snoring next to me. It was amazing. Later in the day I noticed that the tree was almost bare and the ground around the tree was covered in leaves.
I have never seen anything like that since then and I have wondered if I was dreaming. But I KNOW it happened, and reading the note from my mom about those trees losing their leaves all on one day makes me think I'm not (too) crazy.