Fallen maple leaves with raindrops

Fallen leaves at Lake Chelan State Park

“Adding a leaf’s breadth to the depth of the soil.”

“How pleasant to walk over beds of these fresh, crisp, rustling fallen leaves — young hyson, green tea, clean, crisp, and wholesome!  How beautiful they go to their graves!  how gently lay themselves down and turn to mould!  — painted of a thousand hues and fit to make the beds of us living.  So they troop to their graves, light and frisky.  They put on no weeds.  Merrily they go scampering over the earth, selecting their graves, whispering all through the woods about it.  They that waved so loftily, how contentedly they return to dust again and are laid low, resigned to lie and decay at the foot of the tree and afford nourishment to new generations of their kind, as well as to flutter on high!  How they are mixed up, all species, — oak and maple and chestnut and birch!  they are about to add a leaf’s breadth to the depth of the soil.  We are all the richer for their decay.  Nature is not cluttered with them.  She is a perfect husbandman; she stores them all.”
— Henry David Thoreau, Journals, October 20, 1853

Fallen maple leaf on pavement, already starting to decay

Autumn is that elegiac time of year, and fallen leaves are its emblem.  I recently read (in a blog I follow called “The Improvised Life“) about an intriguing art installation by Jane Hammond consisting of handmade leaves, each inscribed with the name of a U.S. soldier killed in Iraq.  This memorial sculpture is called Fallenand it seemed fitting to share it with you today, Veteran’s Day, when we honor all service men and women, living and dead.  You can follow the links to read more about this piece of art and see it installed in its last exhibition.

“A seed hidden in the heart of an apple is an orchard invisible.”
— Welsh proverb

Just-picked Fuji apples, Manson, WA

Chelan and Wenatchee are in the heart of Washington apple country, and the harvest has been underway for some time.  But we still saw many orchards laden with fruit, and hundreds of windfalls beneath the trees.  The rows of trees were a beautiful sight.

According to this Seattle Times article, “Washington state is the nation’s top apple grower and produces about 60 percent of the fresh apple crop.”  And this was an exceptionally good year.  We were driving the rural roads around Lake Chelan on a Sunday, so we didn’t see any pickers at work.

Here’s a look at what we did see:

Orchard supplies along Hwy 970 near Cashmere

Orchard along Hwy 97 nearing Chelan

Looking down the rows of apple trees, Manson, WA

Lots of fallen apples

“When the fruit is ripe it falls of its own accord.”
— Peter Loudon, Drawing Closer to Nature

Boxes of harvested Fuji apples, Manson, WA

Orchards along Hwy 2 near Wenatchee

Orchards along Hwy 2 near Leavenworth, WA

The mighty Columbia River from Hwy 97 approaching Chelan, WA

“Travel alerts the eye and humbles the hand.  Its final destination is radiance: to be transported . . .”
— Patricia Hampl, Blue Arabesque

“The hunger for wonder is appeased by nothing as it is satisfied by travel.”
— Patricia Hampl, Blue Arabesque

I spent the first few days of this week in eastern Washington (east of the Cascade Mountains) in Chelan at a work conference.  I was able to arrive early, on Saturday, and spend two days there with my husband before settling in to work.  Other than a long-ago boat trip down Lake Chelan to Stehekin many years ago, I had not spent any time in Chelan.  So it was fun to explore.  We drove along the lake shore on both sides of the lake until the roads dead ended.  The area is surrounded by dry hills and mountains, yet water is a central feature of the landscape — both Lake Chelan and the Columbia River dominate the views.  We drove along rural roads dotted with vineyards and orchards.  And even though it was cloudy and rainy at times, we did find plenty of radiance in the fall colors.  My hunger for wonder was appeased.

Here are some photos:

Historic mural in the town of Chelan

Rows of blueberry bushes, Blueberry Hills Farm, Manson, WA

Old farm implements, Blueberry Hills Farm

Radiance in a row of yellow trees at the top of a distant hill, Manson, WA

Small lakes nestled in the hills around Manson, WA

Fall reflections in Dry Lake near Manson

Further along Dry Lake’s shoreline

Grape vines covered with netting

At Atam Vineyard near Manson, WA

Grapes, Atam Vineyard

Golden color in a ravine across Lake Chelan

Picnic tables at Lake Chelan State Park — very quiet this time of year

Lake Chelan with clouds