Sunday, November 29, 2009

Strange Weather and Splashes of Color

The past two days there have been strange winds off and on. Dry winds, no big storm. The winds have hastened the process of falling leaves, but Midtown still looks beautiful. California is considered not to have seasons: Southern California is full of palm trees, and the most northern California is full of redwoods and pines, so they are green all year. But Sacramento has been dubbed the City of Trees, and we have a wide array.

Early on, throughout Sacramento proper, streets were lined with elms and sycamores and maples. Oh, we have some crazy-looking palm trees, looking like upended feather dusters, and a few redwoods as well. But for the most part, the plantings since the early days have been mostly deciduous: One long strip of J Street between 12th or 13th and 19th is lined with ginko trees, and they're also scattered around McKinley Park. There are sprinkles of magnolias, tulip trees, and dogwoods, redbuds, crape myrtles, and even a eucalyptus or two, not to mention the lemon, orange, and pomegranate trees planted in individual yards. Because of the citrus trees and a few pines, there are layers of green as well as the russets and golds and yellows and reds framed against the sky.

My favorite trees are the sycamores (plane trees, really) and the ginkos. It's the bark of the plane trees that captivates me. The beige and sandy yellow patches overlap patches of palest mauve, and the faintest green. The patches peel away, bit by bit, explosing new, bone white bark that will deepen in varied hues as the year progresses. It's a tree with about three pollen seasons, and a source of my allergies, but I love its beauty and forgive its effect on me. During spring and summer, the ginko trees are studded with small green fans that turn a rich buttery yellow every autumn. When the leaves finally fall, they lie in bright heaps, like so many gold coins. Combined with the red maple leaves, they make sidewalks and gutters a dazzle of color.

Our autumn is drawing to a close now. By Christmas it will be all evergreens and bare branches (beautiful in their own way, too). But for now, when I walk the dog, I'm enjoying the colors.

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