Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Autumn Splendor Arrives at Last!

Let it be a lesson to me, never to lose faith in Mother Nature.  I was afraid that autumn's glory would miss us this year.  The weather stayed so warm and so wet for so long, our trees just kept pumping out the chlorophyll, and our woods stayed green well into the first week of October.  What little color there was looked muted and dull.  Well, I don't know what happened to trigger the sudden change, but almost overnight, it seems, our forests have burst into flaming colors.  I went to Moreau Lake State Park today to walk the trail I've volunteered to steward, and I was just struck dumb with delight to see such spectacular foliage.

Happily, my trail soon took me down to the shore along the back bay of the lake,  where the trees' beauty was doubled by their reflections in the still water.

Even such homely weeds as Spreading Dogbane were dressed in their season's finest.

Little seedling shrubs of Red Oak had leaves that lived up to their name.

The White Oaks rivaled the Red Oaks for intense color.

After following a muddy section of trail around marshy wetlands, where Phragmites towered over my head and obscured my view of the lake, it was such a pleasure to step out onto a sandy beach and gaze out at all that serene expanse of water.

Red Maples and golden Beeches intermingled in a riot of color.

This little Red Maple shrub resembled a blazing fire.

Sassafras leaves turn a hue that is like no other.

Shadblow, too, can be promptly identified by its coppery orange leaves this time of year.

And then there's Maple-leaved Viburnum, which adds its unmistakeable pinky-purple to the forest mosaic.

My trail circuit nearly completed, I sat for a while to take in the view from this prospect.  I had half-filled a trash bag with beer cans and candy wrappers and styrofoam cups, and felt astounded that folks could be so blind to the beauty around them that they would sully it so.  I guess some people just spread squalor wherever they go.

Witch Hazel was the only flower I found blooming today, aside from a single blossom of Small-flowered Gerardia that my camera refused to focus on.  Those long ribbony petals will curl up into balls when cold weather comes, unfurling whenever the sun comes back to warm them.  I have found Witch Hazel blooms as late as December, if the weather is mild.

No flower has seeds as spectacular as Common Milkweed.  How I love to watch their silky tufts waft on the breeze.   There was no breeze today to waft them away, but a single ray of sunlight broke through the general overcast to light up every filament like a prism.  If you click on this photo, you might see the rainbow of colors among the silk -- a nice finishing touch to a day already filled with glorious color.


Caroline said...

OMG! I wish my South Dakota friends could see real fall color...which is not just yellow aspens and cottonwoods!
A view of Home for a transplanted New Yorker :o)

threecollie said...

Oh, what a wonderful trip! Thank you, thank you! I learn so much every time I visit and the beauty of your photos is breathtaking.

Carolyn H said...

Gorgeous fall color in your photos today! If the rain would stop and the fog would lift, I might have some good color here, too.

Virginia said...

I knew I had been very out of touch with your blog, so what a treat to look back at your postings this evening. As always such spectacular photography. Of course the places you go are lovely but you make them even better. I was completely taken with the picture of the white feather on the water.

I am curious about new trails in Malta. I will have to look up just where they are. I had thought all such things were disappearing from Malta.

Like you, I was giving up on vibrant colored leaves this season and then they came out in full almost overnight. My father and I walked the pond and lake loop at Moreau on Tuesday while my mother was at her Skidmore class, and it was gorgeous. Your pictures were just as we saw it.

Anonymous said...

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder and your 'eye' is fine tuned enabling us to behold the splendors, both great and small. Thank you for this and the Columbus Day posts!

Raining Iguanas said...

You could not have done a better job capturing the colors and essence on my favorite season. Your photos make going to work difficult and a new Canon just rose three notches on my wish list!

Jacqueline Donnelly said...

Thanks, dear friends, for all your kind comments. It's a good thing I got out in time to see this gorgeous color, since it seems to be fading already, or whipped from the trees by strong winds of the last few days.

Seema Patel said...

Stunning photos and very pleasant language, perfect for my taste.