The Fall of the Gingkos

Our nearby park and green sanctuary has a robust collection of Gingko trees. Their fan-shaped leaves turn yellow and then golden in the fall. Just last Saturday, I took some photos of them in their golden glory.

Yesterday, the New Yorker came and in it I found a brief but info-filled note by Oliver Sacks: "Carefully preserved for millennia in the temple gardens of China, ginkgoes are almost extinct in the wild, but they have an extraordinary ability to survive the heat, the snows, the hurricanes, the diesel fumes, and the other charms of New York City, and there are thousands of them here, mature ones bearing a hundred thousand leaves or more—tough, heavy Mesozoic leaves such as the dinosaurs ate...."

I knew these were trees of ancient origin. I did not know that, according to Sacks, all their leaves fall at once. It appears that last night they all fell at least in our park. So to answer Sacks's question on what date this year will they fall, I say they fell on November 18, 2014.

Margaret O'Brien Steinfels, a former editor of Commonweal, writes frequently in these pages.

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