Now that the harlequin highlights are faded and tumbled, I must express my discontent with the sad afterglow of my sycamore trees.

They leave me in a tearful, coughing heap. OK, before I get emails suggesting a snort of horseradish for my sinuses, the reaction isn’t that bad. The summer shade and endless supply of raining kindling are well worth temporary discomfort.

My two large sycamores, fore and aft, have long suffered a disease common to trees of their ilk — anthracnose. It’s not just for cattle anymore. I’m not sure if it’s the disease that causes an allergic reaction or mutant spores growing amid the downed leaf litter. All I know is, whatever they carry enters my home and plays havoc with mucous membranes.

Sycamore leaves aren’t alone in the crowd. I have pistachio, elm and dogwood leaves. Add to the pile flowering pear, plum, cherry and apple leaves. Two birch trees died and fell over, so I no longer have those, but I must not forget the Japanese maple leaves. Then there are jasmine leaves. A few stands of leafy bushes with nice, bright berries remain green by the side of the house, but one must count the odd and end tree leaves of which I never learned their names. The last time I changed lawn maintenance personnel, I was careful to do so during winter. Bare trees hide the truth. But even if they had seen my charges all leafed out, they would never conceive how they multiply in mid-air when fall arrives. Still a mystery to me.

Besides a healthy supply of foliage, one mammoth digger pine towers above most others (leans, actually) and dislodges pine cones the size of bowling balls — only with horns. If you’re standing underneath leaning digger and you hear one of those grenades break loose, you better run for cover because I think they would render a person unconscious. I have a stockpile of them in case of a surprise invasion and for wreath-making.

I do love trees, however, and the leaves and sundry elements that call them home. I recall the time I thought I’d be quaint and get in the spirit of autumn while getting a little exercise. So I bought myself a rake and set to work in the front yard. In about seven minutes I was rasping and choking like a 40-year chain-smoker. My voice fell a couple octaves lower for a little while after that. My cat hid.

What does all this have to do with Thanksgiving, you ask? Very little. Although it does make me extremely grateful for Andy and the Crater Landscape Management crew who come in blowers a-blazing. And do you really want another list of items for which to be thankful? I have many.

Here’s one, I’m grateful for celebrating five years of friends and neighbors taking time to read my diatribes for the Mail Tribune. Five years ago today features editor David Smigelski took a chance on me for a piece in Joy Magazine. Little did he know that I wouldn’t go quietly once they ceased publishing Joy. He’s a patient man.

May we all enjoy peaceful and satisfying Thanksgiving gatherings this year, small or great, and not take one another for granted. I wish for everyone to have enough to eat and at least one friend with whom to laugh and enjoy the day. And I’m hoping for open hearts, with eyes to see all there is for which to be genuinely grateful.

— Peggy Dover is a freelance writer living in Eagle Point. Reach her at pcdover@hotmail.com.