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Patches of gold in the walnut branches are a sure sign of the changing season. Showers of little yellow leaves flutter past my study window. The walnuts are the first trees to lose their leaves at the beginning of autumn. I know, too, that the walnut trees will be the last to leaf out in spring. The branches remain so bare so far into the spring that every year I’m almost certain that our two walnut trees–one on each side of our house–have died.

I’m happy to live in a neighborhood with many trees, including a white oak that is, I’m told, the largest measured white oak tree in the state of Missouri. It is magnificent, although the homeowners regret the humongous branch that crashed down on their roof. We cherish a redbud tree in our front yard, and a plum tree in the back. This year we planted a dogwood. Downhill from our house, old sycamores line the street that runs through a former streambed where pioneer families watered their stock.

Poplars, maples, towering pines, and weeping willows all have different voices in the wind. Trees speak of what lived before us, and what may live after us. What story might this 300-year-old oak in Ohio tell? The photo doesn’t begin to capture its character. Standing near it, I could imagine its wisdom, like one of Tolkien’s Ents.



Loose Park, Kansas City


Autumn leaves sing in a higher pitch,
going from a hush to a hiss.

So soon the lullaby of summer ends
in a last, cold kiss.


Barbara Loots