The good and the bad of leaf hitchhiking season

By By Jayson Jacoby November 09, 2012 02:43 pm

By Jasyon Jacoby

Baker City Herald Editor

The season of the hitchhiking leaf is upon us, and neither our soles nor our kitchen floors will be safe for some weeks.

Or until the snow gets deep anyway.

This season is not widely celebrated — the stores don’t advertise specials, so far as I can tell — but I think it deserves its own little niche.

At no other time am I likely to come across both a desiccated and bright yellow ash leaf in the kitchen, and a slimy crimson maple sticking to a bathroom cabinet door.

The leaves clean up easily enough, and I get a minor thrill from encountering a scrap of nature in the antiseptic indoors.

(As antiseptic as a place can be when two kids live there, one of them still in diapers. Which is to say, not very antiseptic.)

I suppose I could just set one of those boot-scrubbers next to the back door and have done with the whole mess.

Except I’d probably miss the little surprises of this annual arboreal migration.

Besides which I have a tendency to fall when I try to balance very long on one foot, and a person could take a nasty tumble off our back porch, which is bordered on one side by a barbecue and on the other by a stone wall.

There is a sort of rural rusticity to this topic, redolent of walking through the back 40 while waiting for the Thanksgiving turkey to brown, yet it is of course an urban phenomenon as well.

I haven’t seen a city yet that isn’t rife with deciduous trees, and I suspect the sidewalks of Manhattan are as good a place as any to bring aboard a colorful autumn rider.

(Although I suspect Hurricane Sandy didn’t leave much on the Big Apple’s trees. Including apples, were any still waiting to be plucked?)

I am in general pro-tree, regardless of species or type.

It would be a more sterile world, certainly, if all the trees shed their leaves in season, and winters lacked the faithful green of the conifers. The sight of a ponderosa pine or a Douglas-fir after a heavy fall of snow, the needles cloaked with white, is to my eyes as fetching a sight as nature is capable of conjuring.

Yet without our deciduous trees we could not so well mark the passage of the seasons.

(And there’d be a lot less shade on July afternoons, and no crackling soft piles for kids to romp in come October.)

There is of course no shortage of substances which our feet bring indoors.

(Thanks, dogs.)

And soon, as I mentioned, the leaves will be supplanted by the ephemeral, but stickier, snow.

Snow is fine in its place, to be sure.

But that place isn’t my kitchen or living room.

A chunk of slush deposited on the linoleum by a boot rapidly loses any shred of attractiveness.

A pool of muddy water is just a mess.

But an aspen leaf, even if it brings in a bit of dampness, also enriches the scene with its brash color.

Jayson Jacoby is editor
of the Baker City Herald.