Monday, October 13, 2008

I love autumn!

I was born and raised in southern California and spent over 40 years in the same area. Ojai (pronounced oh-hi) is a small community about an hour north of Los Angeles. It's a nice little area and nothing like the bigger cities in California. Ojai didn't get much of a seasonal change. The colors of fall are usually caused by brushfires, and sadly southern California is in the midst of brushfire season right now. There weren't many trees that changed colors in the fall. We mostly had oak trees and they stayed green all year. Ours were Live Oaks, with the tiny green leaves with the sharp, prickly edges. I would have loved to have White Oak or Black Oak trees, but most of the trees in the area were Live Oaks. Even though fall was still pretty warm in Ojai, it has always been my favorite season.

Two years ago we moved to northwestern Montana, to the small community of Bigfork. In some ways, it's a lot like Ojai is, with it's art galleries, small cafes and tourists. Even my neighbor across from me has an aunt who lives in Ojai. The only thing missing here are oak trees. Instead, we have all sorts of pine trees, birch, aspen and cottonwoods. The picture of Nathan playing in the leaves here was taken right when we got to Montana. We had about 4 days before we could move into our house, so we stayed in our travel trailer for awhile. It was our kid's first experience playing in autumn leaves. Watching them was like seeing something out of a movie for me. It was one of those surreal moments, seeing something that other kids got to do each year. Now of course, we have plenty of leaves to rake up and play in. One of my favorite trees are the Western Larches. They're pine trees, but oddly their needles turn bright yellow in the fall and eventually fall off. With our cooler temps, they're just starting to turn a little yellow. Soon, we'll have yellow pine needles everywhere. Beautiful trees, but messy!

Where I live, everyone is required to dispose of brush by burning on designated days. Most homes here have slash piles where they burn their brush. I don't know why, but it's fun standing outside on a cool, crisp autumn day by a huge bonfire. A lot of our fallen branches gets put into bins that I use in my wood stove, but most of the rotten stuff gets put in the slash pile. Our backyard goes up a hill and it's all forest, so we always have fallen branches and trees. Firewood really isn't a problem for us. It's a matter of having the time and strength to get the wood down the hill and get it cut up. In the spring and summer, the hill is so green and overgrown that it's impossible to get to anything. Right now is the only time we can get up there and collect the wood before everything is covered in snow. I spend most of my time outdoors in the fall, collecting sticks for my bins and burning stuff we can't use inside. It's odd, but it's a fun time of year for me.


  1. Cute picture! It sure brings back memories. I always miss the fall colors of the east coast this time of year.

  2. Great Picture Rena! Fall is my favorite time of the year and the trees here are real pretty right now. With the dusting of snow and very cold weather the last few days, I'm afraid there won't be much left.

    When you mentioned Larches, I was instantly reminded of Monty Python when they would always interject a picture of a larch tree and say "The Larch" LOL


  3. Love the picture!
    I like the smell of burning leaves for some reason. Fall is a great season...Halloween is big with the kids, love the sound of crunchy leaves...but I don't like the next season much!

  4. Oh how fun! I grew up with the change of seasons. I can't imagine experiencing it for the first time or seeing children play in the leaves the first time.

  5. Hee hee, can just see you all staring into your bonfires...

    I guess with all those leaves, mulching would be a huge task.. mulch is big here...

  6. We have live oaks here where I live, Rena. There used to be many, many of them, but an incurable disease has killed off most of them. We also have bald cypress along the river, they lose their needles in the fall. As for color, there's cedar elm, black walnut, wild cherry, and pecan to name a few. And down the road is a state park called Lost Maples where the maples trees are famous for their fall color.

  7. What a fun pic! I love this time of the year...the leaves are starting to change around here...of course, that means hubs and I are chopping wood for the winter...not sure I like that part...grin...

  8. I hear you on the chopping wood part Brenda. Rick does most of that, but I spend every weekend outside collecting smaller sticks that I use to start up our wood burning stove. I get real cranky if my "stick bins" get low.

    One thing I won't get used to living up north is how dark it is in the fall. I got up at 7am this morning and it's still pitch black with a great big moon. Soon it will be like this until 8am or so, which is really weird for me. In July, it's light outside until almost 11pm here. Bizarre!