March 25 • 06:19 AM

Seasonal sights amazing to behold

November 04, 2009
Every spring as our corner of the world is 'greening up' and coming to life after the long winter, I say to myself, "This is the most lovely season of the year." Today as I sit at my kitchen table in front of my nice wide window, I watch as yellow and red leaves drift lazily to the ground. It is as though they were putting on a spectacular autumn show just for me, waltzing and pirouetting their way to the ground. They make an awesome carpet. Again I say, "No, this is the loveliest season of the year."

Daisy and I often take a little drive down to our pond so she can get some much needed exercise. I throw a stick, she grabs it and runs lickety-split 'round and 'round the pond. Then she comes back and lies down beside me. I am either at the picnic table or in a lawn chair enjoying the beautiful fall weather we have had.

This past week I especially enjoyed taking in the beauty of the trees. The willow leaves were turning yellow, the sugar maple, black maple and silver maple were in various shades of reddish brown, yellow and red. The smaller tree that drew my attention (I told myself that it was doing it for my benefit) was the quaking aspen. My Dad always called them popple trees. I didn't know until I was volunteering at Seven Ponds that I should correctly call them quaking aspen. I couldn't take my eyes off the smaller tree as its leaves quaked or trembled at the slightest breeze. Truly they were dancing... a happy, dancing little tree. I have read where the French-Canadian trappers had a superstition that the quaking aspen furnished the wood of Christ's cross, and that since then it has never ceased to quake.

The quaking aspen is a monosexual tree. There are male trees and female trees.

The male sports a more colorful garb. The female tree bears cottony tassels with seed pistils. These are called catkins. In April there are so many catkins in the quaking aspen that it is sometimes called the "necklace tree."

Remember when the Ford dealers would have sent to their customers a little magazine called, "Ford Times?" I saved a 1980 issue with the article.

"Quaking Aspen, A Happy Tree." I quote. "There is an aerodynamic reason for the quaking aspen's trembling leaves. They are hinged on stems that are soft, flat and flexible compared with most other tree leaves, which usually have stiff stems. Also, they're flattened at right angles to the plane of the leaf surface. So the stem acts as a pivot, and the foliage goes into a rustling panic at the first hint of a breeze." Further on the article states that each shiny leaf surface reflects the sunlight like a bright green mirror. In the fall, the leaves turn to clear, shiny gold.

And so it was that afternoon, listening to the rustle of the musical leaves and watching the happy leaves dance.

— Country Cousin

Gertie Brooks, of Almont, has been a columnist for the Tri-City Times for over three decades now. Gertie's style of reliving days long past in her writing make her one of the Times' most popular columnists.
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