Where Have All The Colours Gone?

On the day I am writing this, Whitehorse and Haines Junction are inches deep in their first winter snow and Dawson, while chilly and damp, is not.

Mind you, we’re getting ready for it.

The big living room window got its winter plastic coating this evening, and several of the online weather widgets are predicting snow for the weekend. I coiled up the garden hoses earlier in the week and rearranged the outdoor extension cords, anticipating the need for a quick plug-in.

I’m happy the snow has waited this long; we were a bit late hauling our travel trailer to Whitehorse for its winter storage and maintenance. While the truck can stand the first bit of winter in all-season radials, the trailer has summer tires, so I was happy to see clear roads while heading south.

Still, there was snow alongside the highway. Not a lot, but clearly more white stuff than one could attribute to a heavy frost.

Autumn is a brief season here; it’s pretty much over by the time the calendar declares it to have arrived on September 21.

On the other hand, like spring, autumn in Dawson is intense and glorious. One day there is green foliage faded by both sunlight and the attention of a number of parasites that seem to eat the green right out of the leaves;

The next day it seems everything is tinged with yellow and orange, and in no time the hardwoods are brilliant in their autumn finery.

I grew up in the Maritimes, so I miss the reds in the mix. Oh, you find them in the lower shrubs, but it’s not the same as a maple in full gear. Still, fall is when my part of the Yukon becomes a different Land of Gold, and it’s a glorious end to the season of long days and midnight suns.

It doesn’t last long. Just over two weeks ago the banks along the Yukon River were ablaze with yellow and orange, and a fine sunny day would see the whole array duplicated on the surface of the river itself. Except for the desperately diving black flies and no-see-ums, the morning of the school’s annual Run for Terry Fox was about as nice as anyone could hope for in the first half of September.

About eight days later, after a few chillier nights, there were several days of intermittent high winds, and the leaves on all the trees on our property were suddenly off the branches and on the lawn, ending any thoughts I might have had about one final session with the lawn mower and a good audio book.

Now it’s going to be grey and lackluster until the snow puts garlands on the branches, covering up the brown fallen leaves, and reflecting the waning light of autumn.

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