Wednesday, May 11, 2005

Ode to a Canopy

This past holiday season, my lovely husband gave me a combination Hannukah/Xmas/birthday present (my birthday's in early January) of a satellite radio for the car. Love it, love it, love it! Dozens and dozens of channels of music (three cheers to you, Richard Blade of Sirius 1st Wave!), news (including 3 NPR feeds), sports (the channel streaming Patriots' games automatically switches on just before kickoff), and--my guilty pleasure--an E! Entertainment Channel feed, which gives you the audio track to shows like "The E! True Hollywood Story." (My family doesn't know I listen to that channel--please try to keep it among yourselves.)

But I just discovered something particularly SFNE about my radio. When I pull out of the driveway, the satellite loses the signal. I'm not surprised to see the "Acquiring Signal" message come up when going into a tunnel or crossing through a long underpass. But this signal loss as I leave my house is new, only about 2 weeks old. What could be different?

I suddenly realized that the leaves on the trees lining my street had started popping out around then. Many of the streets in Lexington, including my own, have trees overhanging the road, nearly touching across the blacktop. This creates the effect known as a canopy--a suburban one, as opposed to the tropical-rain-forest type, but a canopy nonetheless. When I got my radio, the trees were bare, giving the satellite free access to the unit in my car. Now, as I pull away from my house, the confluence of leaves and branches briefly blocks the signal.

It's as if the satellite were momentarily confused by the abundance of greenery lining a busy suburban street. After about 10 seconds, the signal recovers its composure and my favorite early 80s Britpop comes roaring back.

When we lived in West Texas, I used to bemoan the lack of trees. Native vegetation grows at most a foot or two high, and any trees are the result of watering, good wishes, and more watering. But even my native Virginia, a place I've always viewed as greener than green (in the leafy tree sense), has few streets left with true canopies. Let's face it: canopies are a bit of a hassle. They interfere with utility poles. They're more likely to drop branches into the street during windstorms. (Even here, the town has to come through every spring and trim back any branches that might mess with phone or electricity.)

But I love our canopy. Driving down a street in the middle of the day with a cool shadow thrown over the road by the trees is a true New England pleasure. (As opposed to the days when the whole world is in shadow, because of the lack of sun--also SFNE.) You really don't understand the meaning of the word "dappled" until you've experienced the sunlight dodging the branches.

Now I kind of welcome the signal drop-out--it's a quick reminder that spring is here, finally. It's even worth missing a line or two of Roxy Music's "Avalon"--and that's saying a lot.


Blogger David said...

With the rain on the weekends and my long hours the past few weeks, I hadn't even paid attention to the leaves popping out. ...but because of your post I took off a little early yesterday and put down my book during the bus portion of my commute in order to enjoy the foliage. Thanks.

7:56 AM  
Blogger Alison Rose said...

Additional SFNE canopy story: I was driving to Acton yesterday through Concord. Thanks to the Concord canopy, the radio occasionally lost the signal for the briefest of moments. Here's the kicker: I was tuned to the Discovery Radio channel, listening to a documentary about Welch's, the grape juice company based in . . . Concord (home of the Concord grape, natch).

Glad I was able to help you enjoy the weather! Don't forget to admire the flowering trees, which are particularly lovely right now.

10:39 AM  
Anonymous rsw said...

Yup, I love canopies meself. There's one little stretch of road down in Wilson, NC, that I love to go down in summer because of the canopy of trees. It's gorgeous! I kind of miss it sometimes. We don't go that way anymore.

5:48 PM  

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