Friday, October 25, 2013

Autumn's peak?

Yesterday was the last CSA share pickup for this season. Driving up to get the apples and squash and green tomatoes and..., we had a definite Dr. Seuss moment or two, trying to convince ourselves "Don't be sad because it's over, be happy because it happened!" It's the middle of Autumn, not the end, but it didn't feel that way. It's the middle of Autumn, not the end of Summer but it didn't feel that way. This year's weather makes it tough for us to figure out where we are and what comes next. Only this morning we were looking at an earlier edition of Jim Gilbert's Nature Notebook, one of the better phenology resources we're aware of. For October 23, he lists fall peak color dates for native tamaracks in Carver County. Carver isn't terribly far south of here so there should be a fair correspondence in the dates. With one early exception, peak color was around the 22nd or 23rd of October. This picture was taken this afternoon just up the road from where this is being written. It doesn't look like peak color to me. Although there are some bright yellow tamaracks on the left front, I see a fair amount of green behind them and to their right.

photo of peak tamarack color?
peak tamarack color?            © harrington

We'll see if we can date peak color (in our opinion) or if the needles came down faster than their colors turn. Many of our local deciduous trees are getting to be as barren and bare as the local farm fields. Except for the oaks, many of which hold onto their leaves until Spring, branches are getting more and more sparsely colored.

photo of leaf-sparse tree line
leaf-sparse tree line           © harrington

For now, the oaks are settling in to their earth tone palette of Autumn, before changing to Winter's brown and tan monotony, decent cover for returning tree sparrows, which should be starting to show up some time soon.

photo of earth tone palette oaks
earth tone palette oaks          © harrington

Charles Ghigna nicely captures the season's sense of movement in this poem.

Autumn's Way

By Charles Ghigna

In their yellow-most goings,
leaves of maple
ride breezes to the ground.
You can hear their sound
each autumn afternoon
as the crisp air cuts
through the trees
and hurries us along
the golden sidewalks
home.

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