Trees must know when a bad storm is coming. That’s the only explanation I have for what hapened yesterday.
My apartment complex is a lovely place to live. We have wide lawns, a lovely stream winding its way through the center of the complex, and a lot of trees. Pines, hollies, willows, elms and maples — and towering, majestic oaks that line our parking lots and tower over the buildings.
The oaks are my favorites. They herald spring by being the first trees to show buds, even though they tend to leaf out later than the other trees. In summer, they provide shade to the buildings and the cars, lowering the temperatures of our humidity-prone region. Once fall arives, their leaves turn a wonderful, deep red-brown that provides a background for the fiery orange of the maples. And winter turns them into fairy trees, their branches glistening in the night when are draped with snow.
They also produce bumper crops of acorns, which attract pesky squirrels that eat my plants, Their beauty is worth the inconvenience of the squirrels.
However, the oaks tend to be the last trees to drop their leaves, often burdened with dried, brown leaves well into December.
And so they were on Saturday. The entrance to my building is flanked by two of the larger oaks, and at the start of the weekend, their branches were still covered with masses of leaves.
Sunday morning, as I walked out of the building, I saw that both trees were almost bare, and the grass and parking lot were filled with drifting piles of brown leaves. That scene was repeated throughout the complex — overnight, all the oaks had lost most of their leaves.
One of the biggest concerns in my area with Hurricane Sandy is the strength of the winds. With so many trees still full of leaves, the powerful winds of this storm are anticipated to knock major limbs off trees, dropping them onto buildings and electric lines, damaging homes and knocking out power. And our oaks lean right over the buildings.
So did the trees know a hurricane was coming? Maybe. In all the years I’ve lived here, I’ve never seen so many leaves fall in so short a time. And hopefully, that will make a difference in how the trees, and our buildings, make it through the storm.