Around here, it has been unseasonably warm since late last week; and, this past weekend, it was downright hot, and relentlessly sunny. In fact, the weather was so deceptively summerlike that people were dressing in shorts, tank tops, and sandals, and relaxing on their porch swings and gliders, drinking ice-cold beverages.
There were also many outdoor parties going on, as yards were filled with folks sitting on outdoor furniture, gathering around picnic tables, cooking on grills, and playing lawn games. Moreover, with the temperature only a few degrees cooler today, it continues to feel like July.
Undoubtedly, it can be easy to forget how far autumn has progressed; and even the leaves are unreliable gauges, because the trees enjoy playing the game of stealth changing. It’s kind of a combination of make-believe, and strip poker, wherein the goal is to keep up the pretense of summer for as long as possible. The trees score points for every day that they can trick us into thinking that it’s still summer, rather than well into fall; and the last tree to lose all of its leaves is the winner.
Naturally, their success depends upon various outside factors, including having the weather as an ally, and getting full cooperation from all trees, plants, and shrubs. Because there are so many types of them, a number of which are certain to be dissidents, it can be a challenging, unpredictable game.
Yet, it seems that the trees manage to fool us, to some extent, every year; but often, it’s because we don’t want to acknowledge what’s really happening. I mean, even those who love this season, and prefer cooler weather, don’t like to see time passing so quickly. Therefore, we tend to go into a short period of denial; and that always tilts the odds in their favor, even if some of the young, inexperienced trees start dropping their leaves too early in the game.
Truly, when we look up at the trees, from our hammocks and chaise lounges, if the big picture hasn’t changed much, we can ignore a brief, mysterious shower of leaves, now and then. When eating at our outdoor dining sets, we can pretend that we’re using our patio umbrellas for protection from the sun, and not to keep leaves from falling into our food. As long as the trees are standing around, acting all casual, as if everything is fine, we’re willing to play along with them.
Of course, this game has many exciting twists, and some spectacular turns, especially when, one day, we wake to find the trees sporting cloaks of magnificent colors. Then, though we can no longer deny the calendar, we don’t care, because having such breath-taking scenery makes us feel triumphant.
That is, until the inevitable time when the north wind finally prevails, dropping temperatures sharply, launching blustery barrages of freezing rain, and stripping the defenseless trees of their remaining leaves.
Although that may seem a humiliating ending to the game, we can be sure that the trees will not stand bare for long. No-o! Indeed, they will soon be covered in blankets of snow.