Some folks think the perfect world would include four distinct seasons. This is fine for decorative calendars, but the reality of an icy winter is better left to Hallmark Christmas movies.
Yes, summer in Chico sometimes feels like it lasts half the year. Yet, our three-seasons suit me just fine.
My mother’s mother grew up in Minnesota, and we would visit our relatives about once a year. Winter in the Land of 10,000 Lakes is beautiful for a minute. Next you’re walking on salted sidewalks, looking at dirty snow and dressed like Big Hero 6.
In Chico, we can take in a little white winter by driving 45 minutes to Butte Meadows. More importantly, we have an awe-inspiring autumn.
From mid-September to last week part of my job was to drive teachers from foreign countries from their hotel to the Chico State campus. As the leaves started to change, the group in my daily drive was verbally appreciative.
“It only gets better from here,” I said as the rustling began. I purposefully drove different routes so they could see street after street and avenue after avenue in full color.
One of my favorite trees is the gingko on the south end of The Esplanade, the first in the long line of color-changers as you head north from downtown.
The tree is light green most of the year, then begins to take on a slight chartreuse hue. Over time it brightens and lightens. If you stop and take a few breaths, and the sun shines just right, the color can warm you from the inside out. The fallen leaves even make the sidewalks look beautiful.
“Watch that tree,” I said, gesturing wildly while driving. “I hope it turns bright yellow while you are still in town.”
Most years I am happiest when the colors of the season linger well into November. This gives me time to savor the smell of the decay, to crunch through dry leaves and to gather burgundy leaves as bookmarks.
This year I hoped the color would hurry up.
Praew, from Thailand, was the most vocal in her tree appreciation. As I drove the group to campus, she took videos along The Esplanade, which encouraged me to catch red lights.
Alas, most adventures come to an end and late last week we hauled our visitors’ and their jam-packed suitcases to Sacramento International Airport.
They missed the height of the fall season, but I’d wager their two weeks of fall in Chico were memorable.
After the Fulbright teachers departed, the gingko tree has continued to change. Monday I cruised down The Esplanade, alone in my car, and had to pull over onto a side street. Our gingko really had grown even more beautiful after the teachers had left. I needed to take a picture to send to Praew.