Every August anticipation begins to grow as the final days of summer finally pass as autumn finally arrives. The season seems to be enchanting, it’s magical essence gripping the landscape in a way nothing else does. Eventually though, the first day of fall would come with the autumn equinox as the ancient oak in the backyard began to finally drop its leaves. And once those leaves hit the ground, it meant the best time of the year had finally arrived.

The oak tree stood at the top of the large hill that makes up the backyard. All the trees that made up the forest that would have covered the land a century ago had been cleared, almost as if to make sure that nothing else could obstruct the view of the looming giant with its wide, tall, knobby limbs. Even if the oak was surrounded by forest, its spectacular height would allow it to still stand out above the rest. The great oak was the centerpiece of the property. So as fall began to near it would capture the attention of any school kid walking by after school let out.

The tree’s leaves would begin to fade from green to orange to red, a mosaic more beautiful than anything an artist could ever hope to create. As time passed and night gradually began to creep in earlier and earlier the mosaic slowly began to disintegrate. The leaves would slowly fade to a deep brown then drop from the tree, floating and twirling through the air until they lay down on the earth below. And slowly, leaf by leaf, more and more inches of the oak’s dark twisted bark became exposed to my eyes. Its long slender branches stretch up towards the violet orange sunset above. As each gust of wind ripped through the even the mighty leviathan’s branches would shake and scrape to produce that unique rustling sound that could only be heard, not described in measly words.

Passersby would stare at the tree for all hours of the day on the sidewalk outside the front of the small brick house in front of the tree. The cool autumn breeze rolled and swirled as it came down the hill from the ridge, forcing the use of the sweaters and beanies that marked October’s arrival. It blew the leaves down to the sidewalk where their crisp brown corpses crunched beneath the pedestrian’s feet. The noise it made scared the various squirrels in the yard. They would abandon their frantic last ditch effort to store the plentiful acorns for the long winter that was sure to approach soon. They would hurriedly scurry back to wherever they hid deep inside one of the oak’s many unknown nooks and crannies. 

Still, eventually the squirrels would have to return to their dens for the last time as winter began to replace autumn. The last leaf would fall and that would mean that the season was over. The land would now be cold and quiet. The activity of the oak would go silent and the nights of watching the oak from my chair were done. Still, even though the most beautiful  season was over, the tree would still be here next year, the squirrels would still scitter across it, and the oak’s amazing colors would amaze the townsfolk once again. Fall is a splendid season, but not without its crown jewel, the mighty oak.

Robert Yochum