One of the most beautiful things about autumn in New England is the fall foliage. One could drive anywhere in the region and enjoy breathtaking views of autumnal colors as the trees (remember what those are, city folks?) take center stage and perform a mesmerizing show appropriate for all generations. Everywhere you look, there is an exciting burst of color as the leaves undergo a transformation you can find nowhere else in nature. It is also a last call of sorts as once the weather gets too chilly and the wind a little too strong, the leaves do once last dance and flutter from their branches to the their final resting place (well, aside from inside leaf bags) on the cold Maine earth.
It is this Modern Philosopher’s opinion (and the most important one on this blog, since I’m the one tapping out the letters), Maine’s fall foliage is the best in all of New England, and most likely, the entire country (I’m sure I’ll get comments about that! Bring them on…I welcome the debate!). For this native New Yorker, nothing beats autumn in my new home state.
Then again, this is Maine, so things get a little complicated. You see, up here, trees are living beings that can make decisions, talk, and even dance (you’ve got to get a ton of hard cider into them to see them cut a rug, but it is the experience of a lifetime). The trees are quite aware that they are celebrities, and they spend the other seasons plotting out their fall look. Maine trees live to put on a show! Considering the hard winters they need to survive every year just to make it to the following autumn, these trees deserve their moment in the sun.
In Brewer, Maine, however, there is one tree that is making a name for itself for an entirely different reason. This mighty Maple, located in a small park down near the Penobscot River, refuses to change its leaves!
That’s right, Modern Philosophers, in the sea of Crayola Colors that dot this state’s awe-inspiring landscape, there is a single green holdout!
Tourists are still flocking to the mighty tree, but this time it’s for another reason: controversy! (Man, once I get started with the exclamation points, I really cannot stop myself!!) When asked why it won’t change, the tree told this blog: “I’m tired of being a follower. I’m not some clown that puts on a big red nose and performs for you just because you tell me to. I’m a living, breathing, extremely vital part of this environment and I demand the right to choose!”
Remarkably, sides are about evenly split on this one. For every Fall Purist who wants a color show, there is a Choose Greener who believes a tree has the right not to change. Debates go on all day around the tree (naturally attracting this craver of Deep Thoughts), but things never get too rowdy. After all, this is Maine, things are pretty mellow, and if you make too much noise, it will draw the Zombies out of the woods.
Local god, Stephen King, recently came down to visit the Maple and offer his support. While he would not go on the record with me, he did assure me that in one of the twenty books his writes this winter, the hero will be a Maple tree.
Another person who is a huge supporter of the tree is Harry. It’s his job to rake up all the leaves in this particular park, so he’s got no problem with the tree’s stance. “If those leaves don’t turn, they’re not going to fall, and I won’t have to rake ’em. Plus, having all these people here constantly keeps the grass from growing. I haven’t had to break out the lawnmower in weeks!” Way to be, Harry. Make all Mainers seem like easygoing layabouts…
Someone who is not too thrilled with the tree’s protest is Autumn. Recently angered by her family’s failed intervention, Autumn has been trying to reassert herself as the most powerful of the seasons. Being shown up by a tree is not going to help that. She told me that Mainers were going to feel her wrath for this one (like it’s our fault that tree won’t budge!!!), which I took to mean it would be a good idea to keep my snow shovel handy. My calls to Mother Nature have not yet been returned, but hopefully, she will be able to prevent her daughter from pounding Maine with blizzards until Winter arrives.
One opinion that’s getting a lot of play in this is that of the family of squirrels who live in the Maple. Normally, they would be freezing their fuzzy tails off by now in the bare branches of their home, but this year, the little buggers are staying warm and toasty. They know how lucky they are, and they are paying their luck forward. Said Sven, the patriarch of the squirrel family, “We’ve taken in neighborhood squirrels who were living on the street without heat or a nut to their name. Now we’re just one big, happy, warm, well-fed family…and it’s all because this tree refuses to sway!” (Looks like Brewer residents might be hearing the pitter patter of hundreds of baby squirrel feet come Spring!)
So what do you think, Modern Philosophers? Does a tree have the right to choose? Does Mother Nature have a right to tell a tree what to do with its branches? How jealous are you that you don’t live in Maine where trees don’t give in to peer pressure, where squirrels can talk, and where mythical creatures lurk in the shadows just waiting to snatch and feed on a foliage fan when no one else is looking?
The next time you see a tree, maybe you should give it a hug. As you can surmise, it’s not easy being green…