Have you heard of the movie, My own private Idaho? I love the title, but I could never bring myself to watch it. It's one I would have loved in my twenties, but now? Not so much. There's far too much bleak in the world already for me to want to watch more of it in living technicolor.
Hold that thought - and follow me now, on an entirely different but not unrelated path...
I love living in New England, and I love the fall. In fact, I gave up the year-round sunshine of life in San Diego largely because I missed the rhythms of the seasons.
Every spring I anxiously await the appearance of the pussy willow catkins and the rosy haze of the budding red maples. I marvel at the coral quince blossoms at the front doorstep, just as my grandmother, her mother, and her grandmother did before me.
I forgive the squirrels their mighty depredations of the winter bird feeders as I watch them eagerly sipping sap from the snow-snapped twig ends of the sugar maples.
I bathe in the falls of petals from the fruit trees as the glowing orioles search for bugs and nectar.
I peer anxiously at the distant branches of our mighty oak tree, trying to judge the size of the new leaves. The size of a mouse's ear is the time to put in the first planting of peas, but I can tell you that this is not a size easy to judge with binoculars. My farming forbears lived here when the branches were more likely fifteen feet overhead, rather than the present sixty or so. If the attic windows faced that direction I could use the height of the house to my advantage, but they don't. The best I can hope for is a perching titmouse or chickadee to provide some point of reference.
The fringe tree perfumes the night air in early June. Not as completely as it did before being cut to the ground during a misguided tree surgery foray, a case of mistaken identity. Happily though, it's since grown back to be a full contributing member of the choir.
The flowering dogwood, spared by the fringe tree's trauma, has defied all predictions and continues to be lovely despite a case of dogwood blight and the loss of its top in the hideous early December ice storm of a few years ago.
Into the summer the Kousa dogwoods are blanketed in drifts of blossoms, the leaves hardly even seen till later, sporting their crop of nubbly fruit.
And so it goes, until suddenly one day the only thing between me and the sky is the tracery of bare branches brought once more into view.
And on the ground in front of me lies my own private Maginot Line...