Identifying trees, part 1

It’s gray, cloudy, raining like heck. One of those days when you think that the sun itself is science fiction, and that nothing in the world will ever be right again.

This is the best time to find a beech tree. Perfect conditions. Drive anywhere, and you’ll see nothing but beech trees. Because right now, they’re the only trees with leaves.

Those paper-pale translucent leaves hold more light than color right now.

When rain darkens the trunks of every tree into a field of charcoal black strokes against the white clouds, when the pines and firs are intense with their wet greenness – against this, you can’t help but see beech trees everywhere.

The beech leaves scoop up the weak sunlight and gently bounce it back to our eyes.

Some oaks also hang onto their leaves in winter, but they will not fool you today; their curls are dull and limp.

The beech leaves promenade in their petticoats down aisles of limbs, as though their mothers had dressed them for this, their rainy cotillion.

Take a drive. Look for a beech today. Soon it will take its bows for the winter performance, and disappear behind the curtain of green.

Today’s penny is 2009, the year that I dedicated an entire blog to a single beech tree: To See a Tree