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Keep it Simple: A stubborn little maple tree

Keep it Simple: A stubborn little maple tree

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Michael Jones Petoskey News (MI), 111616

Long after the red and sugar maples in the woods around our house gave up their leaves, this fall the 25-foot tall Norway maple in the front yard stubbornly clung to its full complement of fiery golden leaves. It wasn't until several days of strong winds last week that the Norway reluctantly dropped its leaves onto the ground by the road.

We had this tree planted over 20 years ago and little did we know it would be the last tree in the yard to turn color in the fall and the last tree to lose its brilliant yellow leaves. What was crazy this autumn was how late all of the deciduous trees turned color and eventually dropped their leaves.

The trees were at least three weeks "behind" the normal time of year — last week of September, first week of October for peak color. I don't know if it was climate change, global warming or whatever you want to call the recent spike in worldwide temperatures that caused the trees to be so far off from their normal schedule.

For our Norway maple to lose its leaves during the second week of November — the same time as the two oak trees near the big flower garden, is nothing short of remarkable. It's like living in Southern Michigan to have a maple tree with a stubborn grip on its leaves well into November. Heck, we were only two weeks away from Thanksgiving — Thanksgiving — when the Norway maple gave up the ghost. Unheard of.

Will this fall become the new normal for trees changing color and dropping their leaves? It's kind of scary to think that we are able to see global warming right here in our backyard. The new normal indeed.

If the snow holds off for awhile, my wife and I will have time to rake the leaves under the front yard Norway maple and the earlier fallen leaves from an old red maple near the house and the two cottonwoods on either side of the driveway.

Raking leaves is one job I absolutely loath and it is at this time of year I rue having planted any deciduous trees in the yard. We have several spruce trees and a mix of maple, cottonwood, crabapple, fruit trees and several varieties of ornamental trees. It is the maples though that cause all the dismay for me when it comes time to rake the yard.

I feel as though I am up to my knees in leaves when I wade into the detritus of fallen maple leaves. They just have this knack for accumulating beyond all scope of what seems to be hanging from the trees. I don't quite get it — it's as if the neighbors — as a joke, are bringing all of their raked up leaves and dumping them in my yard under cover of a midnight darkness.

Quantity of leaves aside, I think I am going to really start worrying about global warming when the day arrives and we are regularly able to get out in the yard the week of Christmas and rake up the final dropped leaves from the Norway maple.

I hope that day never comes but the way the earth has been breaking temperature records the past few years — 2.2- degrees Fahrenheit above normal so far for 2016 — December may well become the new November and November the new October - and we will all be in for a hot time on planet Earth for many years to come.

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