Autumn has been glorious in North Georgia, USA. We had an unusually rainy summer, and the old folks tell me that a damp summer brings a colorful fall. The leaves are vibrant yellow, deep red, burning orange. And we have a lot of them. Atlanta is a city in the trees; if you’ve ever changed planes at our airport, you’ve looked down on our forest of vegetation. I don’t know how they manage to fit the buildings in.
I lived in trees as a child. Not literally. I was just an avid tree climber. When my family moved to a house that had only tall pine trees, with limbs too high to reach, my dad hung a thick, knotted rope from the lowest branch so I could scramble up and disappear into the evergreen needles. I was six.
My husband and I bought our first house (our only house, so far) when I was thirty-five. One of the many things we loved about it was the yard full of hundred-year-old oak trees. Unfortunately, we soon fell into a multi-year drought that killed several of them, and despite the best efforts of a good arborist, we lost another to insects. As a result, we have fewer trees and a preponderance of dead wood, which the tree people cut into fireplace lengths and my husband splits with an ax.
We use it. One of the first things we did after we bought the house was have the previous owners’ gas logs removed from the fireplace. We may want that convenience later, but for now we love the crackle of a real wood fire. We heat water in a camp kettle for tea, and on rare occasions I make biscuits in a cast iron Dutch oven. (When our daughter was little and had friends over to play, one asked me, “Are you old-fashioned people?”)
Tonight I’m sitting by the fireplace, warming my toes and marveling at what the trees have given us: shade, beauty, color, heat, nourishment. And the cycle continues. I recently noticed that a weed I’ve long neglected in the garden is turning into a healthy little oak sapling. I thought about pulling it up, but I think I’ll leave it right where it is, and move the garden when the sapling gets tall enough to make shade.
I want there to be plenty of trees for the next generation to climb. They might be old-fashioned people too.