Maple Red

When February 2014 comes — or, possibly, given February weather, skids — to a close, Travvy will be six years old and I will have lived in this apartment for seven. Outside my west-facing windows all that time have been a Japanese maple and its firry buddy. The fir is tall, elegant, and shapely. Some winters it’s dressed in tiny lights. Whatever the season, it draws my eye when I walk, bike, or drive in the driveway.

Six autumns came and went with me barely noticing the maple. This November that changed. This November I fell in love with a tree.

This is what I saw whenever I came home.

maple eclipsed

How could I not have noticed?

When I opened the shade and pulled the curtains in the morning, Maple Red greeted me.

maple & sill

My maternal grandmother loved salted peanuts, the number 7 (she was the seventh of nine children and called her memoir Seven Homes Had I), and the color red. I’ve always been a little ambivalent about red. It’s loud, it’s overpowering, it calls attention to itself.

In November it’s all of the above and more. Maple Red upstaged everything else in the landscape and she didn’t care. I saw her in the dark when the curtains were closed. I saw her in my sleep.

mapleIn mid-November it snowed.

The snow melted. The landscape kept fading, but not Maple Red.

maple leaves 220131117 maple branchesHer every leaf was perfect. They caught the light in so many ways.

Maple leaves forever.

20131123 almost leaflessWell, not quite forever. Slowly, perceptibly, the red faded. Late November winds took their toll.

She’ll be back in the spring. Green, not red. Red comes later.

I’ll be waiting.

maple leaves

About Susanna J. Sturgis

Susanna edits for a living, writes to survive, and has been preoccupied with electoral politics since 2016. She just started a blog about her vintage T-shirt collection: "The T-Shirt Chronicles." Her other blogs include "From the Seasonally Occupied Territories," about being a year-round resident of Martha's Vineyard, and "Write Through It," about writing, editing, and how to keep going.
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5 Responses to Maple Red

  1. susan robinson says:

    Gorgeous tree, plus love the word “firry” and Travvy will be SIX!
    Albert lives on his love for plants and we have two red maples, gotten as babies and not supposed to be able to live in this high, dry climate. So far so good, though. They are his favorite plants of all we’ve had. Yours is inspiring–I will tell ours.


  2. Sharon Stewart says:

    That’s the best maple I’ve ever seen!


  3. Shirley says:

    Lovely, Susanna – for the Gazette?


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