Stick Season begins the day the gingko tree drops its leaves, marking the transition from autumn foliage to late fall. While it’s the blazing foliage that gets all the press, and the flaming maples that offer nature’s great photo ops, stick season’s underappreciated loveliness is worth noting.
As much as I love the harvest festivals, apple celebrations, and sweet autumnal spice, too much cinnamon, ginger, and nutmeg cloys after a while, and I crave the savory flavors of the parsley, rosemary and sage. These are the flavors I welcome about the same time the gingko drops its leaves.
The day the gingko drops its leaves usually follows a particularly hard frost that itself follows a series of cold mornings. It’s a lovely sight: in less than an hour, our gingko sheds its leaves in a gentle cascade of gold.
By the time the gingko drops its leaves, the forest is bare but for the rags of beech and trembling hands of burnished oaks. By this time, the grass has faded from green to gold, and the forest has become transparent. With the leaves of the canopy and understory all underfoot, formerly hidden objects come into view, including the precious sunlight on these short and shorter days.
By the time the gingko sheds its leaves, it’s time to dig up a parsley plant and bring it inside, where I’ll clip its leaves as needed in the kitchen. I also bring in my potted rosemary, and handfuls of sage that will last through Thanksgiving, at least.
When the gingko drops its leaves, it’s time for me to harvest the remaining Brussels sprouts, dig up carrots for now, and bury carrots for later under insulating leaves. Ditto, the parsnips. And it’s time, at last, to bring in the last of the leeks.
In this period between foliage and winter falls stick season, when we finish taking down screens, cleaning gutters, stacking wood; when we haul the snow tires out of the basement, put the rakes in the back of the shed, and bring the snow shovels forward.
Without tourists or festivals or garden work, stick season is almost as restful as its muted hues.
Stick season is filled with underappreciated loveliness, beginning with the day the gingko tree drops its leaves.