Not Long Now…

Red Sassafras leaves (photo by Kate St. John)Compared to the Great Plains and the coasts, Pittsburgh is not a windy place.  Our typical wind speed is 5-10 miles per hour and some days there’s no wind at all.

Gentle breezes are the norm, so you’ll understand why one of my favorite sounds is the swish of wind in the leaves.  Their rustling is so soothing that it actually improves my day to hear it.

Because I love this sound, I began to care whether the leaves were on or off the trees.  About ten years ago I started to keep track.

First I developed a rough standard for measuring “on” and “off.”  Then, using my neighborhood and Schenley Park as yardsticks, I watched the seasons change and tried to pick the date when most of the trees were bare.  Over the years that date has been around November 11th.

Of course the date is very weather dependent.  If a strong cold front comes through early, the wind and rain strip the trees.  If the weather’s mild and our first hard frost is late, the leaves hang on longer.  I’ve seen the date move later in recent years.

In any case, the days of leaves are numbered now.  It won’t be long before the trees are bare.  Then silence, except for the clacking of bare branches during winter storms.

(photo from my cell phone)

November 9, 2008:  Today is the first day this fall that most of the trees are bare.

1 thought on “Not Long Now…

  1. Today I can see more beautiful October blue sky through the branches of my back yard maple that is all shades of green, orange, yellow and red with all combinations in between. It is a sure sign that the leaves will soon all be on the ground and then I will have a better view of the birds as they wait their turn at the feeder. I will be able to see the nests from this past spring and summer and also better see the squirrel who does acrobatics at the various feeders in the yard. Thanks to the squirrel I have a volunteer walnut tree and numerous oak trees growing in the various planting beds. Yes, it is time to turn the water taps off and hunker down to wait for the first flakes of snow. Brrr. I am not ready.

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