On Martha’s Vineyard, fall foliage is often underwhelming, probably because the landscape is dominated by oaks. Oaks seem to go from green to brown overnight: blink and you missed it. But some years the maples, beetlebungs, birches, and beeches do more than hold their own: the oaks glow in their proximity. This might be such a year. I remember one year, probably a couple decades ago, when driving down Old County Road was like passing through a golden tunnel. This year isn’t quite as breathtaking as my memory, but it’s closer than I’ve seen in years.

This is from the circle at the end of Halcyon Way. I think it’s a beetlebung (tupelo) — the yellow-pink colors remind me of peaches.

Though I rejoice in all the colors, I judge each year by the reds. Outside my west-facing window is a glorious Japanese maple. In my neighbors’ yard are another Japanese maple, a couple of Bradford pears, and a burning bush, most of which I can see from my deck. Some years are better than others, but last year was a complete bust. The burning bush never caught fire. When the Japanese maple shed its leaves in the last weeks of November, they were still mostly green. I still wonder if they were completing a year’s mourning after the 2016 election.

This year the reds are looking good. Here’s some of what I’ve seen in the last few days. The Japanese maple hasn’t reached its peak yet — that generally comes close to the middle of the month — but it’s getting there.

Burning bush, November 2

Bradford pear, November 3

The view from my deck, November 3

The Japanese maple from my window, November 2

The Japanese maple from my window, October 31

The Japanese maple from my window this morning, November 4

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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7 Responses to Reds

  1. marjorie561 says:

    I thought this year would be a bust, but it was simply quite late. Turned out there was plenty of color, we just had to wait for it.

    Liked by 1 person

    • My Japanese maple is on its usual course to hit its peak in mid-November — I wouldn’t know this if I hadn’t been taking pictures of it through the seasons for the last five or six years. (Last year, however, was a total bust in the red department.) And speaking of documentation through the seasons, my first ice disk usually appears around Thanksgiving, and every year I think “this is too early.” 😉


  2. Since our leaves turned from green to brown in a snow flurry…thanks for the color!


  3. Jennie says:

    Beautiful, Susanna. The yellows seem to be dominating this year.


  4. Lynn Khosla says:

    I, too, look for the reds and scarlets. This year seems more vivid. I’ll look forward to comparison photos. I saw a scarlet bush the other day with the sun on it just right and it was red as a sunset before a storm. November light is the best light on the Island …


  5. Susan Robinson says:

    We have one bush, here in NM, hat goes from ordinary green to the most startling red. It starts with each leaf turning a bit red at the tip, then slowly traveling up into the green until it’s entirely taken over. I think the burning bush in the Bible must have been something like this.

    I love a diorama in Pojoake, NM, near where I live, put together at the Poeh Cultural Center there, and featuring Indian figures by Roxanne Swentzell, my favorite sculptor of people. Anyway, it’s got about 10 panels showing from before The People arose from the earth through the hole Sipapu, through the different times/events they’ve lived through, to now. What got me mot the last time I went here is that the paper describing all this that accompanies it says about the Emergence Room, the first room. My favorite part is italicized below:

    “The Emergence Room evokes the feel of Pueblo people emergence into this world. It exhibits the world in an idealized natural state, untouched by human creation. The primary feature is a large outcrop with an erupting spring. The water from the spring collects into a pond at the bottom of the rock formation, then flows through a stream that winds throughout the entire exhibit Upon entry the visitor is aware of a warm, earthy smell, and damp, thick air. NO SEASON. EXISTS AT THIS TIME OR PLACE. A light draws visitors toward the end of the exit of this room and into the next, as though they are being drawn into this world.”

    No season exists at this time or place. I think this may be what we fear when we fear death.


  6. Mary says:

    Thank you for sharing the islands colors thus fall- wish I was there!


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