The Santa Cruz mountains, a place of hot, dry summers and long lush rainy seasons. The maple trees soak up the winter rain and store it in their leaves. Even on the hottest days of summer, the maple leaves whisper about last year's rain. They seem to promise that the heat will break, that clouds will once again cover the relentless sun, that life-giving water will return to all the creatures of our coastal rainforest.
we walk from one shade oasis
to the next
The maples act as living rain and heat gauges. In hot, dry years, the maples start dropping their leaves in August. In cool, wet years, they hang onto their leaves past the first rains. Many years, the leaves turn gold on the trees, only dropping when the first good wind storm drives them to the ground.
There's a pumpkin farm up our road where parents and teachers take children for an autumn afternoon. The children go on hay rides, feed the farm animals, and bring home one perfect pumpkin to carve into a jack-o'-lantern.
the maple canopy still green
As reluctant as the maples might be to let the seasons change this year, the change comes.
a small brown maple leaf
worn around the edges
There's a fine drizzle overnight. I turn on my windshield wipers as I drive to town in the morning.
a small golden leaf caught
in my windshield wiper
This leaf doesn't have the staying power of the famous leaf of 2009, however. I watch it flutter for the mile and a half into town.
the leaf dances off
on its next adventure
I can almost hear it whisper, Hey, thanks for the lift!