Friday, November 23, 2012

The Japanese maple


Few things delight me so much as my exquisite Japanese maple, and this is her finest hour. She is a stately old thing, lately attended to by the tree surgeon: the soil around her skirts has been aerated, and certain nutrients administered. She withstood with superb nonchalance the recent hurricane and the snowstorm that followed, which is more than I can claim. The colors only reach this point of high-keyed magnificence for a few weeks in November, barely even a fortnight, and, at this, the moment of climax, a few impertinent leaves have begun to fall, which means that the rest will follow, all at once, in the next few days, depositing within twenty-four to forty-eight hours outside my front door a thick red carpet. And then it will be over. Drew Kenny, who knows these things, tells me that the brightest and most dazzling colors are produced by a wet August, followed by good, thick frosts through September and October, thus producing the best and most vivid chemical reaction. Still, the present show has not disappointed me in any way. Until she disrobes, my Japanese maple will continue to filter the bright light of early afternoon, and give to the rooms on that side of the house a winning blush—a gesture, surely, of apology for the onset of hideous arctic cold that cannot now be far off.

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