Last fall, as the trees I can see from my condo changed colour from their various greens, I have really enjoyed the red, orange and golden shades. Now in winter with the leaves all fallen, the trees show their true shape. They look graceful and interesting without their leafy covering.

I’ve been thinking about the trees at the Mew Zealand house where I grew up. In the centre of the front lawn grew a phoenix palm. As far as kids were concerned this was a dead loss as a tree. You couldn’t climb it and you were lucky not to get pricked by one of its leaves. Along the little street was a row of phoenix palms. I never asked my mother where they came from. Were we given them or did Dad buy a job lot of palms when he planted ours? Now they have all l been cut down and the street has lost its distinctive characteristic.

We had other trees in the back yard but were not encouraged to climb any of them. They were useful fruit trees, apricot and peach. Now that I think of it, nobody in our neighbourhood had climbable trees. Apart from the palms, trees were not planted because of their decorative and ecological nature I had to come to Canada to see these trees growing around houses.

Oakville didn’t get its name because of its palm trees. We had a massive oak tree in the back yard and a smaller one at the side of the property. We also had maples, hemlocks and a hemlock hedge. The large oak was several hundred years old when it decided to fall down one morning. The house shuddered as it landed as did the two other houses nearby. Miraculously, it fell the only way it could to avoid damaging any buildings. The neighbours came to stare at the fallen giant and we had a small crowd of spectators when the large trunk pieces were lifted by crane over the roof of the house onto waiting trucks.

Numerous trees meant thousands or even millions of leaves to rake up in the fall and our weekend in November and early December were spent in moving them to the edge of the road where they were vacuumed up by giant hoses attached to trucks. I always approved of the system as the composted material could be obtained in the spring for digging into residential gardens. Even Christmas trees were useful as they were mulched to make paths in local parks.

Now I have no trees of my own but I see many on the area around the local creek. I was impressed this fal by the gorgeous scarlet trees and bushes. The leaves have been spectacular after waiting so long to change. And the gold lingered into November. Alas! It will be a long time until we see the delicate greens of spring appearing on the bare branches.