There are a couple of magnificent, one hundred-and fifty-year-old gingkoes across the Ohio River in Louisville. Visitors to Cave Hill Cemetery and the Peterson-Dumesnil House make annual pilgrimages to see the colorful leaves. You can’t help being awestruck. My gingko in Utica, Indiana doesn’t draw big crowds, but it holds magic. Good to the last leaf.

Peterson-Dumesnil gingko

Its faded yellow ginkgo leaf fell in my lap just after I had planted 10 more daffodils, 50 crocus, 30 blue and pink Spanish bluebells and was arguing with myself about where to plant three hardy cyclamens.

I was leaning toward a big colorful pot. It was a gray sort of stucco creation, sitting anxiously in the required part shade and fringed in yellow and green. Then the leaf plopped down with a faint “splat” of affirmation. 

Its single arrival in my lap was a first. We always hope for, even expect that great wash of bright yellow ginkgo leaves every fall at first hard frost. I looked up for others. There were none. This leaf was few days late on arrival, but not to be ignored. A survivor with a mission from the world’s oldest tree.

It had already been a beautiful afternoon, a sunny blue day with explosions of red, orange and yellow leaves on Japanese maples, the crunch of their fallen comrades under foot.

Friends had posted photos of magnificent sunsets from the night before, giant red and orange flares against the fading blue.

Precisely where to plant the hardy cyclamen wasn’t that big a deal. They won’t bloom until next fall anyway.

There I sat, taking it all in, the colors, the moment, that sense of peace that comes being out there, riding a beautiful, mild November afternoon knowing you’ve helped create a welcoming spring.

“Splat” came the word from above, ending such reverie. The cyclamens go here, it said. Game over. Who can argue with a ginkgo leaf?