Hamilton: September: ‘Please do not come so soon.’
Here beside the lake, it has been a cool and rainy summer. Maybe too cool and the cold weather must have fooled the nearby Aspen Clone. Clone? Yes, each Aspen tree is a genetic twin of its neighbors, all of them connected underground to each other in a network that is technically called: a Clone.
All summer, the green Aspen leaves have been merrily quaking as they are designed to do. But last week came a shock. A shock way too soon. There on the ground were some yellow Aspen leaves. Oh, oh. That means winter is coming and seeing yellow leaves this soon may mean winter will strike the high country as early as September.
Whenever the yellow Aspen leaves start falling, the late, great Eddie Albert sings in my ear: “Oh, it’s a long, long while from May to December. But the days grow short when you reach September…” For those of a certain age, the green leaves seem a lot more preferable than yellow.
Ever wonder why Aspen leaves quake? The roots in an Aspen Clone run very shallow, making it easy for strong winds to topple individual trees. But Nature must have given the Aspen leaves an understanding of Bernoulli’s Principle. Like tiny airplane wings constantly changing their angle-of-attack relative to the wind, the force of the wind is dissipated hither and thither, allowing the shallow-rooted Aspens to withstand winds that would, otherwise, blow them over. Maybe there is something supernatural about the Aspen.
Hmmn. Where is that bucket list? It’s around here somewhere. So much to do. Maybe we should be more protective of our time. Actually, Aspen are self-protective. Their root system exudes a chemical that prevents competitor trees from springing up inside the clone. Rather like a family that locks its doors at night against the outside world, and then hunkers down to await the dawn.
You see, Aspen love the dawn. Even more than water, Aspen crave sunlight. “And the autumn weather turns the leaves to flame. And I haven’t got time for the waiting game. And the days dwindle down to a precious few: September, November…”
“And these few precious days, I’ll spend with you. These precious days, I’ll spend with you…” As we think of the one we love the most, each day does become more precious, creating a need to get the most out of each morning, and holding dear each golden memory of loved ones past.
“And the wine dwindles down to a precious brew: September, November. And these few vintage years, I’ll spend with you…” Just under their thin, silvery outer bark, even in the dead of winter, Aspen produce a sugary layer that provides food for deer, elk, moose, pronghorns, porcupine, beaver, grouse, squirrels, and rabbits. While other trees are winter dormant, the Aspen alone holds out the prospect of life for others.
“And the days turn to gold as they grow few, September, November. And these golden days I’d spend with you. These golden days I’d spend with you.” Okay, Eddie, that’s enough. It’s getting a bit hard to see the trail. At this age, one mustn’t stumble. Something must have gotten in my eyes.
Nationally syndicated columnist, William Hamilton, is a laureate of the Oklahoma Journalism Hall of Fame, the Nebraska Aviation Hall of Fame, the Colorado Aviation Hall of Fame, and the Oklahoma University Army ROTC Wall of Fame. In 2015, he was named an Outstanding Alumnus of the University of Nebraska. Dr. Hamilton is the author of The Wit and Wisdom of William Hamilton: the Sage of Sheepdog Hill, Pegasus Imprimis Press (2017). “Central View,” can also be seen at: http://www.central-view.com.
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