Gusts shook the house yesterday, some of them more than 50 mph. The phragmites that grow along the roadside, most stretching higher than my head, were dancing furiously, their tasselled tops waving in ripples of green-gold motion. The second day of Boy in Black's Ultimate Frisbee tournament was cancelled because the winds were stronger than the frisbee players. In my woods, some of the dead Scotch pines, trees planted years ago by the CCC, came toppling down. The river birches I've planted near my house bend and twist in the wind, but because they are native to this area, they always survive a storm.
When I look from my window, I see bare branches against the cloudy sky. All the beautiful foliage, the bright yellow, red, and orange leaves, has been stripped away. There's something cleansing about a storm that brings high winds. It's as powerful as an emotional upheaval, stripping away all that we cling to, leaving room for something else, in this case, the brilliant white icy beauty of winter.
The autumn leaves are strewn across the ground, in ankle-deep piles, scattered across muddy lawns, drifted into curving paths on the forest floor. They will decay over the winter, turning to compost sometime next spring. At the edge of a lake, the dark water near the shore shows the very last bit of fall color, bright leaves floating in the ripples.