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Nature gives us colors to be thankful for

  • The Wichita Eagle
  • Published Saturday, Nov. 17, 2012, at 7:49 a.m.
  • Updated Wednesday, Oct. 9, 2013, at 2:53 p.m.

Thanksgiving is as early as it can be this year. Yet somehow Christmas has arrived even earlier.

I even got an e-mail last week asking if I was working on any Valentine’s Day stories.

Have we lost all sense of occasion?

I’m keeping Thanksgiving in my heart right now, mainly through the colors of the landscape.

Fortunately, some leaves still remain on the trees and shrubs, most of them the colors of Thanksgiving – mashed-potatoes-and-gravy colors, the colors of brown construction-paper turkeys and pilgrim clothes, with a dab of cranberry relish here and there on the plate.

When Thanksgiving looms, dim golds and blah browns do not bore me. They console me.

My favorite part of Thanksgiving Day is a walk in the country. Failing that (virtually every year), the next best thing is a walk in the neighborhood. If that doesn’t happen, watching football from the couch works (funny how fast we fall under the influence of tryptophan and starch).

In that last case, I’ll get up occasionally to stretch my legs and gaze longingly out the windows. If they’re not on the trees the leaves are covering the ground. When visiting my sister’s house last weekend, I looked out her back glass doors in wonderment at the papery yellow and brown leaves carpeting her deck.

“Oh!” she breathed. “Don’t you love it?”

This is a woman who doesn’t want anyone sweeping the deck or raking the yard. She loves the landscape drowned in leaves.

Apart from the barrier that deep leaves put between rain and the grass – and from the grumbling of neighbors who try to keep up with leaf fall – I have to love my sister’s love of leaves, especially when so many people consider them a nuisance. It is nice to have a new carpet cover for the fall, courtesy of nature, just as it is anytime it snows in the winter.

For those of you who are not quite as enchanted with the leaves, you can mulch-mow them, as long as you keep on top of the task, mowing each time an inch or two have fallen. When you’ve mulch-mowed so many leaves onto the lawn that you can’t see any more grass, you’ve gone too far, Johnson County extension agent Dennis Patton says. You can still mulch-mow leaves and use the shreds as mulch on garden beds or in compost piles.

If you still have some leaves hanging around that have some color in them, you may want to gather a bouquet of them for a vase or to tie together with a ribbon for a splash of natural color for your Thanksgiving place settings. I got this idea from a rare glimpse into Better Homes and Gardens. (My aunt gave me her September issue in October because it features a story on my favorite perennial, heuchera.)

I love to look for even more Thanksgiving color at garden centers, shopping for deciduous shrubs that still have Thanksgiving leaves clinging to them – serviceberries, barberries, chokeberries, oakleaf hydrangeas, sweetspires.

Even if the brown and gold leaves aren’t destined to last much longer into the season, they’re precious additions to the garden now. My favorite centerpieces are in the yard.

Happy Thanksgiving! I’m grateful for the leaves – and for you.

Reach Annie Calovich at 316-264-8370 or acalovich@wichitaeagle.com.

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