Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Autumn (Entry #5 in the madhousegazette South Dakota Lexicon)

Autumn in South Dakota is a season that can produce some of the most glorious colors on the planet--about every 6 or 7 years, or if you don't blink during a few choice days in the month of October. South Dakota specializes in Earth tones, especially Eastern South Dakota--with the dearth of evergreen trees and lack of sizable aqua-topography--one has to learn to appreciate Earth tones or go crazy.

The leaves changing color can be quite beautiful. However, multiple variables must align:

1. Wet summer. Possible.
2. Cool and/or low wind September. Less likely than #1.
3. Low wind October once the leaves actually turn color. Almost impossible.

In order for autumn beauty to last more than 3 days, these three variables must align. A stiff wind (almost constant) can take down awe-inspiring color in about 3 days. I remember being thankful to be in South Dakota during the autumn months--when the cool down finally comes (ahhh)--then I have my hopes dashed with the first big wind from the Northwest comes and the leaves fly through the air in a Technicolor (fall version) display (amazing in its own right) and the landscape turns to a depressing drab that is only moderated and made peaceful and calm by the first beautiful snow.

I didn't realize the brevity of glory in a South Dakota autumn until I returned to the Pacific Northwest, where the fall colors have surrounded me in what seems to be like strategic stages of color turning for about 3 weeks--with one tree on WA-16 that continues to greet me in varying lipstick shades of red for going on 2.5 weeks. I keep waiting for the autumn glory to be complete, but it keeps on going. South Dakota colors are comparable, but maybe their short annual visit has made me appreciate my return to the PNW even more.

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