Autumn gemmed and jeweled

Autumn is full of good things, as the year ripens and begins its slow decline into winter. Mornings now the grass is spangled with dew; even the omnipresent spider webs can be seen more clearly with their dewy covering.

Roadsides, field edges, forest canopies, city sidewalks everywhere begin to be decorated with colors in the plants, weeds and trees. "Autumn will soon be gemmed and jeweled beyond a rajah's wildest dreams," wrote Hal Borland, nature columnist for the New York Times for years.

"Would you have rubies and garnets and carnelians? Know the woodbine, the dogwood, the swamp maple, the black cherry. Do you yearn for fire opals, sardonyx, topaz or chalcedony? Seek out the black gum, the sassafras, the beech, and the basswood. Does your taste run to sapphires and amethysts? Then go to the white ash and the black oak and the lesser viburnum bushes that grow beneath them. And if you cherish jade and jasper and Brazilian tourmaline, look to the hillsides where the white pine grows and the spruce and hemlock, with the partridgeberry and Christmas fern.

"Richness and wealth? This is less than the half of it, for soon will come the gold in the sugar maples and the birches, the sycamores and aspens. Gold that will be billowed against the sky -- a sky of lapis lazuli and turquoise and aquamarine. God that will be heaped and drifted beneath the trees, new-minted gold and Roman gold and antique gold, more gold than the Incas and Aztecs ever mined or the galleons ever bore away.

"For a few weeks now we are richer than Croesus, our world overflowing with autumn's incredible wealth of priceless color."

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