The seasons in NC are a little different -- I imagine spring is very lush with dogwood and magnolia, summer is a steam bath, winter so mild and green that people plant pansies in November, and what little snow there is just refreshes them -- and autumn is a mixed bag. About a third of the trees turn yellow, rust, or brown here and there among many others, including Virginia, loblolly and longleaf pines, that stay green. I'm forever spoiled for fall by having gone to school in Massachusetts, and canoed down the Concord River under bowers of luminous rose, gold, scarlet, orange, and salmon maple leaves.
So imagine my surprise and delight when one young maple tree directly behind our little back porch burst into flame. We literally spent one afternoon just sitting and staring at it, soaking up its radiance as if it were a form of nourishment. Some maples seem not just to reflect or transmit but actually to emit light, a light the piercing color of the exalted moments of grief.
I angled for days to borrow a camera, to try to catch it for you before it lost all its leaves. A lot of the leaves fell, so that it was standing on a richly figured carpet of its own fallings yet still sparsely burning. I finally got the camera, but the picture is a total dud -- it's a cheap camera, the light was wrong, whatever. All the color got washed out:
I hope my words have colored it in, since that doesn't begin to give you an idea.
It still has some leaves, but now they've turned pale and chilly-looking, Novembery instead of Octobery.
One swallow may not a summer make, but one tree has made our autumn.
UPDATE: Ah! This is better. Nick in Tucson just gave me a new Nikon Coolpix -- my first digital camera!