Back to Nature (Published on - Oct. 28, 2005)
Seasons’ passing
Photo by Rick Tremmel
The pond dazzles golden covered in golden rain tree blossoms.
That night was the turning-point in the season. We had gone to bed in summer, and we awoke in autumn; for summer passes into autumn in some imaginable point of time, like the turning of a leaf. – Henry David Thoreau

No petticoats of crimson, no blankets of gold, no lifeless limbs, no scent of warming fires. No sign of new snow boots nor mittens to be found, no steaming chestnuts, no cord of wood, no foreboding tales of woe and cold.

There are purple berries on the beauty. There are acorns underfoot. As a lazy alligator floats nonchalantly, the red-tailed hawk cries to his distant mate. Against a clouded, lapis sky above and the spilled golden yellows of the golden rain tree below, the hawk’s mate returns his plaintive song.

I see witches welcoming guests and white ghosts fluttering in the wind. Pumpkins line the fields, as a scarecrow keeps sentinel upon a neighbor’s lawn. Cut foam, R.I.P. gravestones lean with promises of sugar treats to come. Maple syrup on warm toast, served up with hot mint tea transports one back to the time of shivers abated and long winter sleeps.

Golden rain tree

The golden rain tree is a sign of autumn in Florida. Remarkably it bursts in glorious clusters of delicate, bright yellow blossoms that contrast with thick, lacy, green foliage. The blossoms rain upon the earth, ponds and rivers nearby in yellows, reminiscent of Van Gogh paintings or spilled golden beads. What follows is equally dramatic. The blossoms are replaced with bounteous fruits, (seed pods) in the shape of maroon Chinese paper lanterns.

“From green to yellow to maroon ... beautiful,” commented a dear friend.

“Ah, but this lovely beauty is a villain in disguise,” I cautioned. She is out of place here. She has no natural balance. Her seedlings grow with abandon. Her lovely bowers crowd out the natural world. Her essence clears the ground below.

Pondering this my friend supposed, “Life is like a puzzle of pieces. They either fit or not. You can’t “make” them fit. When one is missing, the puzzle is worthless, incomplete. What is perfectly natural, balanced and wonderful in one circumstance, may be totally unfit and noxious in another place and time.”

So it is with the magnificent golden rain tree.

In warm climates, such as Florida, the seeds of the golden rain tree produce an overwhelming amount of seedlings, which may become invasive, displacing native plants. The Florida Exotic Pest Plant Council lists golden rain tree as an invader with the potential to disrupt native plant communities. The beautiful golden rain tree is out of place.

The golden rain tree is a rapid grower, 20 to 40 feet tall with a broad, somewhat irregular, globe-shape crown. The golden rain tree is native to eastern Asia (China and Korea). In colder climates the seeds do not have Florida’s extended period of time to produce. The golden rain tree is so beautiful that many land owners willingly perhaps, diligently, tend the grounds beneath the tree to remove the hundreds of seedlings. A tolerance and forgivingness is offered for the sake of such beauty.

“Strange that the vanity which accompanies beauty – excusable, perhaps, when there is such great beauty, or at any rate understandable – should persist after the beauty was gone.”

– Mary A. (Elizabeth, Countess Von) Arnim

The pond dazzles golden in rain tree blossoms, while a plate sized crimson moon shadows my wandering path. Summer passes into autumn scarcely visible in a hush as it tenderly greets our senses with one last waft of scented air, back to nature.

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