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.