The Shortest Season

Burning Bush in Finch Arboretum

I’m not sure why I never thought about it before, but I realized the other day that autumn is our shortest season.  Not according to the calendar, but in the way we perceive it. When we think of fall, the thing that comes to mind is brilliantly colored foliage, like the burning bush in the photograph above. However, the time span when any individual tree or shrub is in its colorful glory is disgustingly short — often measured in mere days and almost never more than a couple of weeks.

For the serious leaf-peepers who make the pilgrimage to catch the best color in New England, the Appalachian hardwood forests, or the aspens in the Sierras there are websites that track the color change. The timing of the season depends on several factors, including recent rains and whether there’s been a frost. It’s hard to predict far in advance.

I am in Spokane and vicinity for a few days to catch what I hope will be the peak of color in gardens on the east side of the Cascades.  This afternoon I stopped at Finch Arboretum on my way into town and photographed a handful of specimen trees in the low sunlight. Golden rain tree, catalpa, honey locust, crab apples, and some of the maples were all putting on a fine show.

Tomorrow is predicted to be cloudy and possibly rainy, which will give a very different feel to the gardens I plan to visit and photograph. I actually hope there is a little light rain, but no wind, to accentuate the colors.

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