Wednesday, October 14, 2015

If robins = Spring, do woodpeckers = Autumn?

Roller coaster temperatures, winds that change from calm to breezes to gusts blowing hard and forth and back, Summer birds leaving and Winter migrants arriving mark a weather transition doing pretty much a mirror image of Spring. Except, except for the light. I don't recall Spring light having the golden glow to it that Autumn's lower sun angles bring. Falling leaves open the canopy and lighten the forest floor, giving a sun that's diminished from Summer more to work with. This morning's woods brought new depth and vibrancy to the word dappled (which contains the word apple in case that kind of mnemonic(?) interests you).

Autumn bright sun-dappled woods
Autumn bright sun-dappled woods
Photo by J. Harrington

Once leaf out is done and a heavy canopy is in place, woods shift from cool and shady to dark and dreary almost at random. Those alternatives disappear at this time of year as leaf fall proceeds.

more Autumn bright sun-dappled woods
more Autumn bright sun-dappled woods
Photo by J. Harrington

Yesterday, shortly after I posted to My Minnesota, a pileated woodpecker landed on the deck, checking out the sunflower seed feeders or maybe the acorns on the deck. It seems a little early to put out suet, but, if the temps drop and stay there, we'll set up suet feeders to please the woodpeckers. I've noticed that nature rarely checks my calendar to see if I think it's time for certain changes. She proceeds on the premise that it's up to us to adapt to her schedule. She's probably got that right. Adding suet feeders would offset the fact that the sunflower seeds aren't disappearing as quickly now that there's a lull between migrants headed south from here and those for whom here is south.

pileated woodpecker at suet feeder
pileated woodpecker at suet feeder
Photo by J. Harrington


By Gerald Stern

He was cleaning leaves for one at a time
was what he needed and a minute before the two
brown poodles walked by he looked at the stripped-down trees
from one more point of view and thought they were
part of a system in which the dappled was foreign
for he had arrived at his own conclusion and that was
for him a relief even if he was separated,
even if  his hands were frozen,
even if the wind knocked him down,
even if his cat went into her helpless mode
inside the green and sheltering Japanese yew tree.

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