poetry and prose about place

yellow rain

with 10 comments

In October, we still have at least one more autumn display, the shedding of the tamarack needles.   Tamarack is a deciduous tree and loses most of its needles this time of year.  We have a number of tamaracks on our property, so the golden needles fall as a constant ‘rain’ during late October and early November.

Tamarack (Larix laracina (DuRoi) K. Koch) is also known as Hackmatack, American or Black Larch and, in French, épinette rouge.   Tamarack is a large tree, with a narrow pyramidal canopy and pendulous branches.  

In my head, I can still hear the voice of my undergraduate botany professor, who was interested in the origin of growth forms of plants, saying, “the tamarack has, here, both short shoots and long shoots”.  The short shoots emerge from the sides of branches and resemble small bunches or tufts of needles, and the long shoots grow at the ends of each branch and are elongated, with single needles along the length.  The needles are small and generally very soft to the touch compared to other conifers. 

Today, there is evidence that the ‘amber rain’ has begun, just a few needles on every outside surface.  By the end of next week, the windshield of the car will need a swipe of the wipers to clear the yellow needles.

Tamarack needles on the frozen water of the birdbath



Amber Rain


autumn fades

bright carpets

            swept away

pale ghosts rattle

            from beech and oak

limp rags hang

            on frosted pumpkin vines


but still

a touch of autumn 

            stands of larch

            yellow in the afternoon


and now

a gust of wind


the amber rain


            pelting needles

            fill the air

            soaking ground

            strewing gold



fairy straw

washed to the edge

of puddle shores

flooding borders

of roads, driven

by wind, a storm

of gold


            needles patter

            gentle chatter


where begins

the amber rain?

is it larch

or hackmatack,


or tamarack?

who sends the amber rain?



© Jane Tims  1992

Written by jane tims

November 6, 2011 at 7:19 am

10 Responses

Subscribe to comments with RSS.

  1. Thanks for the like and for sharing your great poetry! Neat.



    Andreas Uneby

    November 18, 2011 at 5:48 am

    • Hi. I’ll have a better look at your site a little later. Thanks for liking my poem. Jane


      jane tims

      November 18, 2011 at 6:17 pm

  2. Golden feathers of autumn. Lovely. In particular, this line leaps to me…”fairy straw, washed to the edge of puddle shores”

    And I also love the sound of the names – hackmatack, tamarack – they are like drumbeats in the rhythm of your words, a contrast to the image of raining amber.


    Deborah Carr

    November 8, 2011 at 10:32 am

    • Hi Deborah. I find the origins of the names so compelling. The words ‘hackmatack’ and ‘tamarack’ seem appropriate to the off-beat quality of this tree. Jane


      jane tims

      November 8, 2011 at 9:37 pm

  3. Hi Jane… they are a beautiful tree in their own right. Great post! Perfect poem for this time of year. 🙂




    November 6, 2011 at 10:43 am

    • I will be reviewing all the posts I missed in the near future. Promise. I still have a ton of things to do before the onset of real winter….the last nor’easter kind of caught me unawares. -Denis



      November 6, 2011 at 10:46 am

      • Hi. First, do all those November chores! Then you can read posts all the indoor-days of winter… Jane


        jane tims

        November 7, 2011 at 7:34 am

    • Hi Denis. I think the name ‘Hackmatack’ is so charming… just right for such an ‘unconventional’ tree. Jane


      jane tims

      November 7, 2011 at 7:31 am

  4. Hi Jane, I enjoyed your lovely post of “amber rain!” I love the tamaracks too, and now I know more about them.


    Ellen Grace Olinger

    November 6, 2011 at 10:04 am

I'd love to hear what you think...

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: