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Mack Williams: Fall color fail (at least where I live)

Mack Williams

The local weatherman said it was due to there being too much heat for too long (kind of like over-baking in the oven). And they said some of it had to do with plant sugars being stored in the plant’s roots and in that big columnar straw of a stem, and the amount of sunlight too. This was “autopsic” talk concerning the seeming shortage of the production of brilliant Fall colors (at least in my area) this year.

I guess in some places it worked out well; but for me, at least where I live, the only places the Fall colors really worked out gloriously were in my memory, like that of the bright canary-color tree in front of Appalachian’s former music building, I.G. Greer, years ago (I don’t know whether that tree lives still).
For me, it was as if a lot of the leaves in my area had turned out like some of the tomatoes in my late father-in-law’s garden one Summer due to varying water levels: a deathly black on the bottom, when turned over.

A month ago, I saw a surprising number of non-descript Fall leaves brought down onto the road by rain and wind. Previously passing cars had “plastered” them to the pavement so they resembled an early season “vegetative roadkill.”
With the lack of really brilliant Fall colors around, the non-deciduous firs and cedars seemed greener by contrast, as if trying to make a show on their own to relieve my disappointment (paraphrase of Kilmer: “I never thought that I would see, anthropomorphism ascribed to a tree!”).

There was failure of the natural acorn crop some years ago, causing bears to prowl around untended trash cans far from their usual acorn routes. Th

Perhaps, for some reason, the really bright glints of orange and red where I live were too brief, and for that reason, I missed them, only catching the brown (but I guess that sort of thing is really not of major consequence, just something which didn’t work out the way you thought it would).
Some of my Facebook friends from other areas posted some marvelous Fall colors; so perhaps my area is just “stricken.”

My neighbor, with his mower-mulcher, seemed to be taking leaves which had not quite turned to “dirt brown,” and was making them more size-appropriate to become soil component.
It was strange that empty junk food bags along the road seemed to be the only examples of “Fallen” color standing out. Many of the leaves in my area just never seemed to have progressed beyond a poorly-mixed, deep dijon color, complete with undissolved black spots.

It was as if the late Bob Ross’ formerly vivid palette, like he, had also become a “shadow.”

The city’s big vacuum trucks were driving along sucking up the colorful trash along with the more mundane leaves. Their great hoses reminded me of that “vacumey,” “nozzley” thing pictured on the cover of the old Moody Blues “On the Threshold of a Dream” (1969) album.
Those drab, curling leaves were like written mistakes, balled up and discarded.

Unlike other years, It seemed a good many of this year’s leaves failed to reveal those secret colors always lying beneath chlorophyll’s green.
They took the colors within them, like secrets, to the grave; perhaps “in the sure and certain hope” of brighter colors next Fall.


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