Two maples after dark

After days of drizzle, the ground underfoot is carpeted with fallen leaves: a slick and sodden carpet destined to decay. Although foliage forecasts try to predict when trees will reach the height of color, I prefer days when the trees are past their prime, their ragged tops blown almost bare and the ground beneath their branches dappled with detritus.

How do I explain this preference? Is it that I, too, am past my prime, rounding the corner into late middle age? Or is it that II, too, feel perpetually belated, having missed the hoopla and arriving at the party just as it is ending?

I suspect I suffer from a stubborn streak of contrariness, preferring the time after leaf-peepers have left and the streets are once again the sole domain of early morning dog-walkers and intrepid joggers. September and early October are as bright and festive as a party dress, but late October reminds us of the true mood of autumn: a season less fun than funereal..