win, place, show
last week, while hiking a lakeside trail, my friend Kristin asked me which trees would turn color first. kristin often accompanies me on my walks. she has witnessed first hand over the last several years my accumulating knowledge of our environment, both the names of the flora and fauna but also the cycles. i can usually predict the change of our northern micro-seasons to within a day or two. so it was not unusual for her to ask me that seemingly innocent question–which trees will turn first? the trailsides, at that moment, were still a suffocating dense impassable wall of green. but the cool breeze had us both anticipating autumn. the question caught me off guard. i can tell you exactly the order of unfolding in the spring–the swollen buds, followed by pussy willow catkins, followed by the bursting of the elderflower buds, then the first dandelions against south facing walls, etc… but autumn? i wasn’t so sure. i stammered for a bit, and then answered tentatively “sumac, then maple, and then maybe cottonwood”. well, it is only one week later, and i am proud to say i was right on the first two. third place is still up for grabs at the moment, but it is looking grim for cottonwood. if you bet on elms to show, i think you’ll win some money.
sumac leaves in late august