Sunday, October 02, 2005

Autumn gold in Arcola

Today was one of those grey days that make the autumn gold blaze. I kept looking at our hedge of lilacs and thinking about cutting it down. (Why not? It will grow back better than ever, or if I like it gone, I'll have all winter to think about how to keep it gone.) Several times I walked out in front of it, trying to imagine how the house would look without its stilted screen, and each time I found myself looking up at the distorted elm crowns with their branch tips still scorched where they got whipped against the 3-phase in that summer storm. What to do with the elms? I just don't know. They would be magnificent if only someone had thought to plant them away from the wires. They may be gone in a few years anyway.

I tried to picture some other trees or shrubs in the front yard. Finally I decided to walk around town and look at other people's trees. What a treat. The ash trees are nearly bare, and the Manitoba maples are getting there fast, but the elm leaves have just started to fall, so there is still plenty of gold in the townscape. Lilacs are still green; dogwood and cotoneaster shrubs are vivid red. At first I walked through the older parts of town, where most of the yards are hedged with caragana and shaded with Manitoba maples. As I moved into a newer area, I noticed a much greater diversity of trees and shrubs: silvery willows, dark evergreens, and the graceful shapes of crabapple and weeping birch trees. I still don't know what I might plant in our front yard.

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