21 October 2017


I commented in my previous post that sometimes it was hard to tell if it was Autumn in Southern California; but I had forgotten about the Harbinger, aka my across-the-street neighbor's tree.

It is a thoroughly obnoxious tree. Not only does it grow at a truly astounding rate, necessitating frequent trimmings (which it doesn't get often enough, in everyone's opinion but said neighbor's), but it drops everything on the ground that a tree could possibly think to deposit: sticky clusters of green fuzz in the spring, long thin pods full of seeds in the winter, and in the fall, gigantic leaves larger than my father's hands (which were known in my family for their gargantuan size and strength—people have been known to surreptitiously whip off their rings before shaking hands with Dad, for fear of injury).

These leaves turn bright gold in the fall for a short week or two of glory, and then they become brown and brittle, and fall off; but because of their size, they don't subside quietly into piles beneath their tree; they travel. It doesn't help that I live on the south side of the street. If you live in the San Fernando Valley, you know that the wind nearly always blows down from the north, so if you are a south-side dweller, you are the designated leaf rakers in autumn. But these leaves will not be raked—they must be chased down, gathered, and stuffed in a bin quickly, lest they overwhelm you!

Today, when I returned from breakfast out (and a smog check for my car), I decided to do some watering in the front yard. The wind has been blowing the past couple of days and everything was bone dry. While the rose bed was filling, I sat down on the front porch and captured the tree in its goldy magnificence in my small sketchbook. Would that I could capture its brown discards on the page and keep them out of my yard, in about two weeks when they begin to fall!

Black Uniball pen and watercolor.

And no, I have absolutely no idea what kind of tree it is. 

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