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Would Hurricane Matthew Spare One of My Favorite Trees?


When I first drove home from the newsroom after Hurricane Matthew had passed us by, I was worried about one tree in particular.

The first day of autumn this year fell on Thursday, September 22, this year. I knew it was the first day of autumn and may have even mentioned it in some news story I wrote that day. But it really didn’t sink in because it didn’t feel like autumn.

It was a hot and muggy spring, a hot and muggy summer and even the start of autumn was hot and muggy here in Charleston.

Autumn is my favorite season of the year, hands down, because of all the fall colors. Here in Charleston, we don’t see a lot of fall colors, at least not like they do up in New England. One of the items that would be on my bucket list if I ever wasted the time trying to write one, would be to spend a month or so in a place like New Hampshire to watch the colors change. There’s something about that beauty that just can’t be adequately put into words, so I won’t even try.

Because we don’t see a dramatic autumn here, there are a handful of trees I have a particular affection for because they individually capture the dramatic beauty of that color change despite trees around them choosing not to participate in this natural process.

autumn-treeThere’s one near my mailbox that I always watch this time of year.

I’m not sure what species of tree it is; I’m sure someone out there would recognize it immediately. I’m sure my dad would, but he doesn’t read this blog so that’s no help.

Six months or so out of the year, it’s green. But in October, those green leaves begin to fade. They then turn into this bright yellow, then to a fiery orange. It’s as if some artist comes along and paints the trees with the brightest colors he can find while the rest of the world is sleeping.

When I drove onto the property last Sunday, I almost couldn’t see the road because of all of the leaves and branches. The dark gray asphalt was green. I saw several large oak trees that had been downed by Hurricane Matthew’s powerful winds. At least one fell on a car. None that I could see hit any of the buildings.

But when I saw all those leaves, a sinking feeling immediately hit me: if Matthew blew this many leaves off all these trees, that small tree that displays such gorgeous colors was surely a goner. It was probably blown bald.

No fall colors for me.

I almost wanted to turn around and go somewhere else.

But I just kept going, slowly…until I saw it.

autumn-tree2Nearby, one huge pine had lost a large branch. But this smaller tree proved itself much sturdier than I expected. It looked as if it lost not a single leaf.

The image above to the left and the image here to the right are from the tree’s presentation last year. You can see that dramatic variation from green to bright yellow to the bold orange.

Yes, I graduated from the University of South Carolina, and its chief rival is Clemson, whose primary color is orange. But seriously: just look at that color and tell me it isn’t gorgeous!

I’m hoping that within a couple of weeks, I’ll see the natural fireworks of autumn’s change of colors from this beautiful tree again.

I can’t wait.

Do you see big fall colors where you live? Do you have a single favorite tree that shows them?

the authorPatrick
Patrick is a Christian with more than 30 years experience in professional writing, producing and marketing. His professional background also includes social media, reporting for broadcast television and the web, directing, videography and photography. He enjoys getting to know people over coffee and spending time with his dog.