October 20, 2003

Liar Liar

Cottonwoods with full fall foliage.

A while ago I said we don’t have fall color in Nevada; that the trees stay green until the first freeze and then the leaves all wither and fall off. Well, I lied. Some of the trees around here actually do turn before they lose their leaves, like the giant cottonwoods. For a couple of weeks they erupt into clouds of yellow. But only yellow. There are no reds or oranges or golds, just a yellow that starts on one branch of the tree and spreads like a cancer until the whole tree is glowing.

Our Octobers are colored green and yellow, and then by the end of the month all the leaves have fallen onto the ground. That’s when the cold winds come down from the mountains and swirl the leaves around in the darkness, just in time for Halloween. And that’s when I like walking around Carson City at night the best, watching the leaves swirling around me. The west side of Carson takes on a peculiar quality during those few weeks. Even when you’re walking down the street by yourself, you feel like you’re not alone. The bare branches of the cottonwoods seem to reach out towards you. You walk by an old Victorian house, and there’s a bluish glow coming from the upper window. Is it just a nightlight, or a candle? Perhaps. Through the rustling of the leaves you think you hear faint footsteps, but when you turn around there’s no one there. The moonlight casts strange shadows on the walls, shadows that seem to bend and twist and dance. Shadows that seem to follow you.

Carson City is nearly 150 years old. Out of all the city founders this town had, maybe a few of them refused to leave?

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