The rain pinged off the skylights and plunked in the gutters this morning. The leaves were at first slow to turn in our area, perhaps the result of warm dry conditions through September, but then the colors seemed to come in a flood. The yard is now covered with a blanket of wet leaves and many of the trees are already bare. I haven’t yet cleaned my gutters, I usually leave it until all the leaves are down. Otherwise I’ll just do it twice. I’m a man of logic and economy of effort when it comes to such chores.
The colors have been quite spectacular this year. I know many of the trees by sight, but there are also many varieties that I can’t identify readily. I should study the books more and do a little fieldwork. For I dearly love trees. This area is, of course, known for the brilliant oranges, reds, and golds of the maples. We have a number of them around our house, as well as black walnuts (not my favorite trees because they are so messy this time of year), oaks, hickory, catalpa, aspen, locust, and many others that I don’t know. We have lots of evergreens as well, but they are not the spotlight trees right now.
Last Saturday morning I left the house early to catch the early morning light, and drove north and west into the rural back roads between our house and Interlaken just to the north. The fields are mostly harvested with some corn still standing, but others are just stubble. The clouds were dense and scattered and the sun was peeking out from time to time providing the most incredible light. The landscape had a real storybook look about it. Geese flew overhead traveling between the lake below and the fields of corn stubble up in these rural hills.
During this season, I believe I love the roadsides, ditches, and weeds almost as much as the brilliant trees. Some of the less desirable plants often provide the best color. My true favorite is the sumac.
These plants change with the widest gamut of color combinations, often all within a single stand of plants or within a single plant itself. Reds, yellows, purples, blues, greens, burgundy and magenta, orange and lime. They are remarkable and I could make a study of just their color alone during autumn. Their reds are the most brilliant nature creates. And they are one of the few plants I have seen that can turn a rich deep indigo blue.
The fields are also full of dry weeds that are so beautiful in their own right. Fluffy heads of dried goldenrod, milkweed with open pods spilling out silky floating seeds, teasels and thistles. When back lit, they light up as if beacons in the dried fields.
The deep woods still appear dark and green in places, yet the trees along the outer borders sit bright and colorful against the deep black backdrops.
It’s an incredible visual time of year here, but like the spring season, much too fleeting, and gone before you know it.
All images are Copyright © George Cannon, all rights reserved.