'Inaba Shidari' Japanese maple. Photo: Keith Hansen

Everyone who knows how much Grumpy loves fall color knows how miserably depressed he is right now. Fall color here in Central Alabama was awful. Call it "Fifty Shades of Mud." Yet one person in Tyler, Texas shows him no mercy. Every 15 minutes, she posts a picture on Facebook of yet another glorious Japanese maple in her yard, like the one above. Please, Sharon, in the name of all that is sacred and merciful, stop.

She will not. Sharon is the Past President of the North American Branch of the Maple Society. Think about this for a minute. This is obviously a group of disturbed individuals who live, breathe, think, and dream about Japanese maples. The fact that she belongs to the "North American Branch" of this organization means that this fanaticism exists worldwide. What do we really know about these people?

Now don't get me wrong. I like Japanese maples (Acer palmatum). When a person asks me for my number one choice of a small tree for a small yard, my answer is always the same -- Japanese maple. Its genetic diversity permits it to exist in more colors, shapes, and sizes than any tree I know. It can be upright. It can be weeping. It can be 30 feet tall. It can be 3 feet tall. You can grow it in the yard. You can grow it in a pot. Its leaves can be scarlet, crimson, burgundy, purple, orange, salmon, yellow, pink, or variegated. (And blue, if you spray-paint them, which I'm sure Ms. Nelson is doing right now).

But not in my yard. I get dirt, taupe, sandstone, beige, cardboard, and mud. For example, I have a 20-year old maple near the street called 'Osakazuki' that's supposed to display some of the prettiest fall color of all. This year, like every other year, it turned muddy red for two days and then brown.

emMy 'Osakazuki.' Photo: Steve Bender/em

Below is Sharon Bailey Nelson's 'Osakasuki.' See any difference?

em'Osakazuki' Japanese maple. Photo: Keith Hansen/em

This is so cruel. Every day, she posts another photo of another incandescent maple in her yard, just like these. I can hear this Maple Maven cackling all the way from east Texas.

em'Ever Autumn' Japanese maple. Photo: Keith Hansen/em
em'Shishigashira' Japanese maple. Photo: Keith Hansen/em
em'Red Dragon' Japanese maple. Photo: Keith Hansen/em
em'Viridis' Japanese maple. Photo: Keith Hansen/em

I have begged Ms. Nelson to stop her sadism, but she will not. She suggested that I become a member of the Maple Society, of all things. Next, she stated her intention to buy the empty house across the street from me and plant 150 Japanese maples there.

This is a person familiar with waterboarding.

But, as always, Grumpy will take the high road. He won't post pictures of his cat on Ms. Nelson's Facebook page every day or pepper her with invites to play Candy Crush Saga.

He will, however, remind this rabid Texas A&M fan of the time Grumpy derided the Aggie Hort Department for introducing new Texas bluebonnets whose colors included pink and white. "What were [they] thinking when they took the blue out bluebonnets?" I asked. "I mean, who wants a wildflower that fades in the fourth quarter?"