Friday, October 1, 2010

Out of Sorts

The weather seemed out of sorts yesterday. All day slate-gray clouds moved quickly from southwest to northeast; clouds more suitable to a blustery November day. The air was warm and humid. It felt tropical. We seem to be experiencing the tail end of tropical storm Nicole.

Rain, perhaps heavy rain, was predicted, so I wore then carried my rain coat as Kodi and I walked up Bald Hill Road in the afternoon. Rain this week caused some trees to lose nearly all their leaves. An afternoon breeze shook loose a few more. As they fluttered to the ground some landed on Kodi's back much to his surprise. The shagbark hickories looked a bit shabby in their drab yellows and browns. The multicolored sugar maples -- a mix of red, orange, yellow, and green -- were also dropping leaves. Even two male bluebirds looked muted under the gray sky.

Maybe I was a little out of sorts too. Yesterday I watched as one of our neighbors cut down the few remaining trees in their front yard, including a beautiful mature red oak near the road. This tree had large arching branches that squirrels visited often. In spring, migrant birds -- scarlet tanager, Baltimore oriole, red-eyed vireo -- often arrived there first. There are other oaks in the neighborhood, but this was a beauty and offered shade and homes and food for wildlife.

I am uncertain why our neighbors removed the trees, perhaps to allow more sunlight to reach their house or because of all the acorns and leaves that fall from a mature oak. It is their yard, but now I look across at their bare lawn, their outdoor lights, and cars in the driveway. It suddenly feels more suburban. Cutting down mature trees is always dramatic, especially when a site is suddenly bare of all trees. As days go by I will get used to the new landscape in our neighbor's yard, but I will miss the oak and the squirrel antics and the singing birds.

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