I opened up the DNR website on peak leaf color in Minnesota and learned that a narrow sliver of the Arrowhead region — that's the Pointy Part, for you newcomers — is already fully red. Missed it again!
From the website's description of the area: "The maples quickly hit prak color over the last week." Yes, prak color. This, I believe, is a technical term among leaf-watchers and refers to an effusion of auburn hues mixed with umber and ocher.
On second thought, looking at the keyboard, where "r" is next to "e," I think it's a typo. Never mind.
The article also notes, somewhat ominously, that "Birds of note right now are pairs of pileated woodpeckers that are moving through the woods." For some reason, I see them walking like little tough guys, looking as if they mean business.
We have a pileated woodpecker in our yard. It's huge. While googling the bird to learn more (conclusion: basically, it's a bird), I found on Wikipedia a sound file of its signature call and played it on my phone.
The woodpecker stuck his head out. I played it again. He flew to the eaves and glared down. For all I know, I just said, "I'm coming to your tree hole, and I'm going to take your mate and kick the eggs out on the ground." I have visions of my wife coming into the backyard and finding me on the ground, screaming as the woodpecker hammers at my eyeballs.
"What did you say?" she might ask. Years of experience behind that question, I suppose.
Anyway, I have trees around me, as well as pileated woodpeckers, so I don't need to go Up North and look at trees and woodpeckers. For some reason we think it's better up there. Maybe so. But it might be like driving to Duluth to see a movie that will be playing a mile from home in a month.
"Ridiculous," you say. "Nowadays movies are released in all markets simultaneously, unless they are small, independent films that cannot find wide distribution." Thank you, Mr. Literal, who is to joy what a pileated woodpecker is to small bark-dwelling beetles. The point is: It's lovely here now, and it's going to be lovely in the weeks to come. If I had the time, I might want to go north, find a long stretch of road, and drive so slowly I can actually see the colors turn, while listening to the honking of the red-breasted Honda behind me. (You can find the sound file on Wikipedia.)
When you visit the DNR website, it asks if you'd like to get text updates about changing leaves. If you decline, there are two options: "No Thanks" and "Remind Me Later."
I am unsure how the latter option works, unless someone nudges me at the store and says, "How about those leaf updates, bud? Be a shame if you missed those maples goin' off in Sandstone. Reeeeal shame. Coulda gone early, stopped at Hinckley, had a roll. Too late now."
Perhaps I should sign up for texts, just to have my day complicated a bit more with pointless updates. It would be a handy excuse for getting out of Zoom meetings, I suppose. Ping! Check phone, get a dark and worried look: "Sorry, gotta go." Everyone assumes the worst. There's no way my boss would suspect I actually was leaving to see the birches grow wan in Bemidji.
Well, until now, anyway. Note to self: Rewrite last paragraph before filing column.