My Autumn in Canada

Filed in Travel by on October 11, 2013

I can’t say I like autumn.

Autumn, for me, marks the end of summer, my favorite season.

I’m a warm-weather person who worships the sun, which, I realize, is not good for you if you expose yourself to its potentially harmful rays once too often. Yet, during the all too short Canadian summer, I’m in my element, body and soul.

Summer means many different things to me.

I wear jersies and  shorts whenever possible. I take pleasant walks in our tree-lined neighborhood or in a nearby ravine. I lounge on a chair on our sundeck, reading a newspaper or a book. I tend to our garden of ferns, flowers, shrubs, cherry tomatoes and herbs. I mow the lawn, inhaling its sweet aroma. I ride my bike in the city, exploring its nooks and crannies as only a cyclist can. I enjoy the pleasures of al fresco dining. I hang out laundry to dry in the humid heat.

By late August, dead brown leaves carpet our driveway, a harbinger of summer’s impending departure. By the second week of September, there is a slight chill in the air, especially when night falls. Toward the last week of September, I need to wear a windbreaker when cycling, and getting ready to put away my sandals for another year. By the second week of October, I feel fortunate if daytime temperatures reach a high of 18 degree celsius.

The end of summer, however, signifies the arrival of autumn, when leaves on trees exhibit all their wonderful and miraculous colors and hues.

Canada is home to a variety of native trees – maples, grey dogwoods, honey locusts and red oaks – that produce leaves in vibrant and luminous shades of crimson, orange and yellow.

This brilliant autumnal show, which always starts exactly on schedule, is one of the wonders of our planet, surely on a par with the pristine jungles of  the Amazon, the lush deciduous forests of  Canada, the rolling sand dunes of Saudi Arabia’s Empty Quarter and the snow-clad jagged peaks of the Rocky Mountains.

If you drive into the countryside north of Toronto, you can detect the first glimmer of autumn leaves by mid-September. All it takes are temperate days and coolish nights. By the last days of September, the landscape is a palette of spectacular colors worthy of a fine oil painting.

In Toronto, this annual rite does not manifest itself  in earnest until mid-October. But once it is here, in all its unparallelled glory, you can only marvel at its unsullied beauty.

Last year, on an unseasonably warm afternoon in late October, I sat on a bench in Trinity Bellwoods Park and looked up at a grove of sturdy and mature trees in my line of vision. With the sun shining in a cloudless blue sky, the deep crimson and bright yellow leaves were marvellously translucent. I felt spiritually at peace with myself. It was a transcendent moment.

Two years ago, while driving my daughter to New York City, I experienced much of the same sensation as I passed a wall-to-wall tapestry of trees in full fall bloom in Pennsylvania. I wanted to pull off the road and admire the unsurpassed view, but couldn’t because we were behind schedule.

Three months after I got married, my new bride and I were visiting  Montreal, where my parents and two sisters lived. It was late September and the colder weather had already left its desired impact.

Golden and reddish leaves shimmered in the pale sunlight. My wife, having been raised in a country bereft of such arborial displays, was impressed. Picking up a few leaves, she carefully placed them between different pages in the novel she was reading.

Forty one years on, these leaves, now brittle but still amazingly beautiful, adorn the interior of her book.





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