In June 2008, I became a proud grandfather for the first time. Actually, I became a proud grandfather for the first time twice – I now have twin grandchildren, a boy and a girl. My daughter, the twins’ aunt, decided to give them a sugar maple tree this summer for their first birthday. It’s about 10 – 12 feet tall and pretty skinny with about a two-inch diameter trunk and is now planted in our back yard.
This, then, was the first autumn of this tree’s life that was shared with us and the twins, who are now about 16 months old. The leaves of the tree turned red and twice I collected those that had fallen to the ground and kept them in a bucket for the kids to enjoy on their weekly visit to Grandpa and Grandma’s house. The leaves that are left on their new maple tree are now countable and soon countable on the fingers of a couple of hands. Sooner than I would like, those skinny twig-like branches will be completely bare and will remain so for at least the next five or six months.
Most trees lose their leaves and remain leafless during winters here in Chicago. Only evergreen and other non-deciduous trees bring natural color to the snowscape that we will soon (oh too soon) be surrounded by. Palm trees just don’t have a chance around here.
Of course, students are on campus much more during the annual leaf shortage months than when our 5,000+ trees are in their full glory. Our consultants, even those from California, recognize that a landscape which is only black and white for most of the academic year does not breathe as much life into the campus as one that has at least some splotches of color here and there.
Not all of those color splotches, however, have to come from plantings. Some of it could come from non-concrete benches. Some could come from new banners that get hung. Some could come from colorful murals on the exterior walls of buildings. Some could come from new lighting – maybe spotlights that change colors on that new all-season water feature the consultants keep talking about.
Some color could also come from the coats and hoodies we wear.
More UIC indigo blue and flame red here and there – what a concept!! That’s a new leaf we all could turn over.
Enjoy the leaves while they last. Then it’s our turn to change colors.
Question of the week: What color(s) should those new benches be?
Until next Friday…