To Autumn

John Keats, English Poet, 1795 – 1821

Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness,
   Close bosom-friend of the maturing sun;
Conspiring with him how to load and bless
   With fruit the vines that round the thatch-eves run;
To bend with apples the moss'd cottage-trees,
   And fill all fruit with ripeness to the core;
      To swell the gourd, and plump the hazel shells
   With a sweet kernel; to set budding more,
And still more, later flowers for the bees,
Until they think warm days will never cease,
      For summer has o'er-brimm'd their clammy cells.

Who hath not seen thee oft amid thy store?
   Sometimes whoever seeks abroad may find
Thee sitting careless on a granary floor,
   Thy hair soft-lifted by the winnowing wind;
Or on a half-reap'd furrow sound asleep,
   Drows'd with the fume of poppies, while thy hook
      Spares the next swath and all its twined flowers:
And sometimes like a gleaner thou dost keep
   Steady thy laden head across a brook;
   Or by a cyder-press, with patient look,
      Thou watchest the last oozings hours by hours.

Where are the songs of spring? Ay, Where are they?
   Think not of them, thou hast thy music too,—
While barred clouds bloom the soft-dying day,
   And touch the stubble-plains with rosy hue;
Then in a wailful choir the small gnats mourn
   Among the river sallows, borne aloft
      Or sinking as the light wind lives or dies;
And full-grown lambs loud bleat from hilly bourn;
   Hedge-crickets sing; and now with treble soft
   The red-breast whistles from a garden-croft;
      And gathering swallows twitter in the skies.

Autumn’s bounty
Keats doesn’t specify what’s on the vines that grow around the thatched eaves, but the first things that comes to my mind when I think of vines is grape vines.
Late flowers add to autumn’s vivid color-scape.
The other day I saw a skein of birds flying southwest. In Scotland this V-formation of birds is called a skein. Just like a skein of yarn. The reason for the name remains a mystery.

Autumn: Crisp and Colorful?

“Autumn is a second spring when every leaf is a flower.” Albert Camus

Have the leaves changed color in your area? They’ve been slow to change around here. The weather has been drab, with a cloud cover that’s kept us too warm. Until the past few days we haven’t felt cold, crisp air. I’ve seen only a few trees with golden foliage, a few with red and orange leaves, but many plants are mostly green with only a few colorful leave. Some trees have dropped their leaves without changing color.

Leaf senescence is the name for the biological phenomenon that causes leaves to stop producing chlorophyll, which makes them green, change color, and fall. It’s triggered by shorter days and cold weather. Sometimes leaves don’t change color but fall anyway. It’s been a relatively warm autumn, not just in my part of the world, but in other places in the Northern hemisphere, too. A friend in Virginia says the foliage there has also been slow to change. Maybe we’ll have to start preserving red, orange, and yellow leaves in Plexiglas or mounting them in frames, in case the climate gets so warm in that trees and shrubs no longer change color.

Because of the pandemic, and other reasons beyond my control, I haven’t been able to get out much this fall. I’ve stayed close to home and collected colorful leaves on my walks. All these photos were taken in other years.

Point Defiance Park, Tacoma, Washington

The Rose Garden in autumn. It’s been a while since I visited. I wonder if this tree is as golden this year as it was in previous years?

This blazing maple is also at Pt. Defiance.

In the Japanese Garden. Pt Defiance.

Colorful leaves are everybody’s favorite subject. I even like the dark purplish ones and they way they contrast with the lonely maple leaf.

Isn’t this tree’s curling bark beautiful?

Madronas aren’t the only trees whose bark peels and curls.
Not everything is red, orange, or yellow in the fall. Autumn crocus at Pt. Defiance.

To keep autumn colorful we can grow our own plants that don’t rely on cold weather for their brightness. This vivid beauty is a Japanese lantern plant. It would be fun to try to grow one. It’s an invasive species. To keep it from taking over the garden, it would have to be grown in a container sunk into the soil, or on your patio or deck.

The Japanese lantern plant is related to tomatoes and potatoes. Inside the red-orange sheath is the plant’s fruit. I’ve never seen the fruit so can’t say if it looks like a tomato or potato.