Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Autumn with oak leaf clusters

Below is a sample of a bright red oak (shrub) from Sunday's trip to Crex Meadows. It's followed by a picture of leaves that may be common but I don't remember seeing, orange leaves on aspen (poplar) saplings. They aren't as distinctive in the picture as they were while we were driving past, but I think you can see to the right-center that the leaves aren't the usual aspen yellow.

Crex Meadows "scarlet" oak?
Crex Meadows "scarlet" oak?
Photo by J. Harrington

Crex Meadows orange and yellow aspen
Crex Meadows orange and yellow aspen
Photo by J. Harrington

In past years, I've noticed whether the leaves were colorful or not, but never paid much attention to the details. This year's observations help me to realize how much more of what goes on in the world I've probably failed to notice over the years.

This year one of the oak trees in the back has turned bright coppery-orange. If I didn't know it's an oak, I'd mistake it for a maple. The maples this year seem to lack the vibrancy I'm used to seeing in their Autumn reds and oranges and yellows. I've also noticed quite a few oaks that turned burgundy and even a few scarlets or garnets. These figures below come from Ingrid Sundberg's color thesaurus and display much of what I'm talking about. Using the orange shades, one of the oaks behind the house is tiger. Many of the oak leaves still on the branches are rust or bronze or spice or amber. After they've been on the ground for some time, leaf colors dye out and fade, just as wood turns to reds and oranges in a fireplace and then to dull, gray ash.

shades of orange

shades of red

Just for fun, which shades of orange and red from the thesaurus do you think show up the most in the leaves shown here or in your neighborhood's trees?

Getting in the Wood

By Gary Snyder
The sour smell,
       blue stain,
               water squirts out round the wedge,

Lifting quarters of rounds
       covered with ants,
      "a living glove of ants upon my hand"
the poll of the sledge a bit peened over
so the wedge springs off and tumbles
        ringing like high-pitched bells
               into the complex duff of twigs
               poison oak, bark, sawdust,
               shards of logs,

And the sweat drips down.
        Smell of crushed ants.
The lean and heave on the peavey
that breaks free the last of a bucked
        three-foot round,
                it lies flat on smashed oaklings—

Wedge and sledge, peavey and maul,
       little axe, canteen, piggyback can
       of saw-mix gas and oil for the chain,
knapsack of files and goggles and rags,

All to gather the dead and the down.
       the young men throw splits on the piles
       bodies hardening, learning the pace
and the smell of tools from this delve
       in the winter
             death-topple of elderly oak.
Four cords.

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