Looking out my fourth floor window, I see a world that big cities, especially those on the West Coast where I’m from, won’t understand. Washington D.C. has cherry blossoms that unfold in spring, New York City has the thrill of a snow-kissed winter, but Ann Arbor was granted fall.
Growing up in a very warm climate, I didn’t actually think that leaves changed color as a child. I would browse the illustrations in children’s Thanksgiving books and not believe that trees could transform in that way. In southern California, eucalyptus and palm trees stand firm all year long. Green trees are few and far between when you live that close to a desert.
This all changed freshman year.
Until I arrived in Michigan, I had never seen so many trees. In the weeks leading up to October, my friend from Grosse Pointe Park, Mich., enlightened me on how dramatic the month of October is. I thought it was a joke. She smiled coyly as she mused on October, the month when strange things begin to happen. She was right. Longer, lingering shadows take over as the sun begins to disappear. However, nothing could prepare me for the color-palette shift of an entire city.
As schoolwork piled on, my friends and I spent longer and longer hours at the library. One night after staying up at the library until 5 a.m. to complete a number of history essays, I found myself stumbling back to the bus stop in a hallucinatory daze. In the dim morning light, I was completely taken by an almost psychedelic tree. The trunk, camouflaged into the dawn’s darkness, held a healthy head of branches and leaves, except the leaves were fuschia. The leaves had turned from a sensible green to what could only be described as otherworldly.
Bright pink and orange drenched the tree’s branches, and I thought I had lost my mind. I stared at it for what seemed like the better part of an hour. I remembered I wasn’t in some other world. I was in Michigan, it was fall, and all the trees would soon look like this one. I let out a sigh of relief, laughed to myself and caught the bus back to North Campus before 9 a.m. ballet class.
Now, in my fourth and final year of school here, I gaze out at the bright yellow trees of Kerrytown, so vibrant that they reflect off the windows of houses and apartment buildings. They drench this beautiful and mysterious town in color that will all too soon be replaced by seasonal depression and the January flu season. I’ll spend my last October here numbly gazing at impossible trees and attempting to stain their every color into my mind before they once again disappear into our colorless gray winter