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.
How could I not have noticed?
When I opened the shade and pulled the curtains in the morning, Maple Red greeted me.
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.
In mid-November it snowed.
The snow melted. The landscape kept fading, but not Maple Red.
Her every leaf was perfect. They caught the light in so many ways.
Maple leaves forever.
Well, 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.