Driving around the Texas countryside this autumn is a rather depressing activity. All along the roadways one sees dried up ponds and dead trees. Hundreds of dead trees. Thousands of dead trees.
Even when I look out my back door, I see dead trees. My old apple tree, which I've reported on here before, now appears to be completely dead. It was badly diseased and a large section of the tree - one-half of the divided trunk - broke away and fell to the ground earlier this year. The other half was still alive at the time and we made the decision to leave the rest of it standing until winter. It's a favorite perching place for the birds, and the woodpeckers, especially the little Downies, are constantly scouring its bark for goodies. I would simply leave it there for the wildlife, but I'm afraid at some point it will become unstable and, in a strong wind, it could fall on the fence between us and the neighbors.
The apple tree is not the only dead tree I see when I look across my yard. True, the apple tree is the only one in my yard that has died, and that, I think, was more due to disease than to drought. But beyond my backyard fence, the big pine trees in the bit of woods that still exist there are suffering badly. I would estimate that at least half of them are already dead and others are looking extremely stressed.
For all of these trees, the autumn rains, if they come, will be too late. It is the same with thousands of trees around the area. At the end of this drought, whenever it comes, we will be looking out on a very changed landscape, and this year, the color of our autumn is brown.