LESLIE CRISS: Fall’s nearness foreshadowed by shades of red

By Leslie Criss / NEMS Daily Journal

“I cannot endure to waste
anything as precious as
autumn sunshine by staying in the house. So I spend almost all the daylight hours
in the open air.”
– Nathaniel Hawthorne

“Every leaf speaks bliss to me, fluttering from the autumn tree.”
– Emily Bronte

There are two trees in my yard that I watch for signs of fall.
The one in front, I believe, is an Autumn Blaze ornamental pear tree.
For a short time in early fall the tree lives up to its name, for it is truly ablaze in a brilliant shade of red that teeters and teases between a bright Auburn orange and an Alabama crimson.
In the backyard, a red maple provides the perfect background for a holiday card photo. But you have to act early and quickly before the Christmas red fades to yellows and golds.
I love these trees all year long, but it’s this time of year I look to them for assurance my favorite season is near.
Making it through the past months of high humidity and heavy heat was challenging for us all. Reports of all manner of heat-related ailments droned daily from the newsroom scanner.
After three days with no air-conditioning in August, I yearned in earnest for fall and wondered if it would ever arrive.
But it always does. And just in time to save us from our sultry, suffocating Southern summers.
It’s fairly awesome, I think, this season changing. It’s as if the next season in the queue knows just when we’ve had enough of one season and will applaud heartily when it ends and the newcomer takes its place.

n n n

In addition to turning leaves, I’ve also been on the lookout lately for bugs.
Niece Bailey is working hard on an insect collection for her science class at Mountain Gap Middle School in Huntsville, Ala.
Her mama called me a few weeks ago and asked if I’d grab any interesting insects I might see in Tupelo.
Friend Cheryl found, most appropriately, a praying mantis while doing some power washing at All Saints’ Episcopal Church.
When I found a locust a month ago when Bailey was visiting, she showed me how to euthanize it.
A hundred years ago when I was working on my own insect collection, the bug I most wanted to find and capture was a walking stick. I failed.
So, I’m hoping I might find one for Bailey.
My sister told me last Friday she’d decided insect collections were a mean and archaic practice.
I agree.
Leaf collections seem kinder, gentler.
And I know where my niece can find some gorgeous fall-heralding leaves.

Contact Leslie Criss at leslie.criss@djournal.com or (662) 678-1584.