Monday, November 18, 2013

A Colorado Autumn

Fall time in Colorado was magical for me when I was a kid, but it never looked like it was supposed to. This is because there are no proper trees in Colorado.

"What about aspens?" you say, and that is because you probably have never been to the part of Colorado that is not the mountains. Aspens are in Aspen, where rich people ski. We lived in the burbs in the flat part of Colorado.  I have never been skiing in my life.

Fall time on the flat part is a time of transition, from the sun-crisped lawns of dry Summer to the cold-crisped lawns of dry Winter. This was magical to me when I was a kid, mostly because I was a big dork and really loved going back to school. 

Autumn just didn't have much else to offer. The Colorado plains is not a natural habitat for trees  that properly turn orange and red and then shed beautiful piles of Fall time wonderland. Mostly, in Colorado neighborhoods, there are small decorative landscape plants and pine trees. (All evergreens are still "pine trees" to me. They all look the same.) A lot of people there don't even own a rake. 

Sometimes, when I was a kid, I did try to scrape pine needles into piles over the crispy brown grass, to emulate proper fall time fun.  It wasn't the same as the leaf pile of my dreams...but it did have its charm.

I was pretty sure that I was missing out.  We usually grabbed a few cozy weekends of woodsmoke-filled weekends at our favorite campgrounds just as it started to get cooler, and this was nice.  But I knew that in other places, kids waded joyfully through piles of leaves wherever they went in the Fall. They shuffled through this golden month or two, pausing to sit on giant pumpkins and drink cider in leaf piles, knowing that the ax of winter would not drop any time soon.

Fall time in Colorado means it is colder and browner, but not really nicer in any way. And then it randomly snows in October and you go trick-or-treating anyway, which, I do have to admit, is pretty cool.

I live in PA now, with the correct kind of trees.  I raked the maple leaves into a pile in our yard the other day. With a real rake.

Its a different part of the country, and a different kind of life.  There are heritage parades in small towns here instead of piles of flaming illegal fireworks in the street. We have deer and old German farmers in the field behind our house instead of howling coyotes.  There are moist gardens and soft grass instead of bristling carpets of pine needles.  On the other hand, if it snows here on Halloween, everyone stays home. Sometimes I wonder if I am giving my kids a childhood that is too soft.

Then I watch them fling themselves into the pile of leafy joy, crack their heads together and gleefully poke each other with sharp sticks, and I know that I am a complete idiot to think idiot thoughts like that.


This time of pretty much bliss.


  1. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  2. I see you wrote this on your b day. Happy birthday. Snow trick or treating is grand, those were good times. Broomfield obviously didn't have the right trees for leaf piles, but my little rascals have had many leaf pile jumping experiences. We had cottonwoods in our back yard and it would take all of Fall to pick up the ridiculous amount of leaves they dropped. I'm happy your kids get to have the leaf piles you never did. Also love the drawing of your Mom in the subaru, spot on ;)

  3. Tash-thank you for picking up on the complete accuracy of my mom's Subaru scene. I mean. You should-you were there! :-) Good times.
    I definitely did not count the cottonwoods, and I should have, cause we had that cottonwood park like a block away. I guess I have selectively forgotten them cause they weren't in my actual yard. I'm glad your kids have them though! That shit is critical to a proper childhood!

  4. Hiya I have nominated you for a Liebster Award! All the info is on my blog, I hope you take a look...