The Linden Tree: A Cautionary Tale


When I left for California a few days before Halloween, the leaves on our linden tree glowed golden to the top of its sixty-foot height, and when the temperature hit the mid-seventies for a few hours some afternoons, the warmth was not yet ambivalent.

When I returned eight days later, she was almost bare, having dropped her fall motherlode over the dying-back medicinals at her feet: wild ginger, wild yam, black cohosh, goldenseal, golden ragwort among others.

Her generosity saves me the job of mulching the front yard beds, and also brings extra frown lines to the faces of my neighbors: they worry about wind and wonder when for heaven’s sake will I get to raking. Their yards are impeccably leafless shades of grassy Crayola greens, proclaiming that their caretakers have acquitted themselves of outdoor duty and retired for the winter.

Rain has intervened. It is one thing for me to rake dry leaves, quite another effort category entirely to corral them once they have cohered according to their own laws of physics, into slimy, gummy sheets and clumps.

All this to say that sometimes the rhythm of my own life – say, the delight of flying across the country to bake gingerbread pumpkins for a family Halloween party and participate in bringing home a new family pet, a trembly fluffy lapful of Lion-Headed Bunny – runs up against the rhythms of the season. And when that happens, when I miss Nature’s window, I know I have to summon extra effort to get the same job done.

Right now I am holding off on the raking, watching the weather for five consecutive days without rain to let the leaves dry out.

Are you in or out of sync with the change of season?
Share your wisdom – or cautionary tale – with this good-enough tribe.