Everybody should own a tree at this time of year. Or a valley full of trees, or a whole hillside. Not legally, in the formal way of “Know all men…” and “heirs and assigns” written on a paper, but in the way that one comes to own a tree by seeing it at the turn of the road, or down the street, or in a park, and watching it day after day, and seeing color come to its leaves. That way it is your tree whenever you choose to pass that way, and neither fence nor title can take it away from you. And it will be yours as long as you remember.
Red maples are beautiful trees to own that way. They color early and the color steadily deepens. Find one that turns mingled gold and crimson and you have a tree of wonders, for you never know whether another day will bring more gold or more rubies. It will be a great treasure in any case. And a sour gum is a thrilling tree to own, for its reds and oranges are like those of no other tree that grows. A dogwood, too, is one to consider, for it not only rouges itself with some of the warmest reds in the woodland; it decks itself with berry clusters that outstay the leaves, if the squirrels are not too industrious. Or you may choose the sassafras, and cherish the choice until all the leaves are fallen. For the sassafras is like a golden flame with all the warmth of orange and red and even purple mingled in. No fire that ever leaped on a hearth had the warmth of color that glows in a sassafras on an October hilltop.
Take your choice among these and many others. Make one your own, and know Autumn in a tree that not even the birds can possess more fully. It’s yours for the finding, and the keeping in your memory.
The pic is of a tree that I like to think of as my own, one I keep track of. I’m not sure what kind it is, as I don’t think I’ve ever seen it with leaves; I’ll have to pay a visit this weekend before it disrobes itself again for the winter.