Monday, November 09, 2009
The "brown" season is settling in here at Roundtop. After six months of being surrounded by green, now I’m surrounded by brown. I’m still adjusting to that, in part because the change happened unusually fast this year. Normally, the colors of fall hang on for a while, sometimes for a long while. This year the colors were gorgeous for a day and gone literally overnight.
Yesterday the weather was a bit warmer than is typical and combined with a sunny sky and calm wind, the day felt wonderfully warm. I traipsed around the woods a bit, enjoying the temperature and the open view the now bare trees present. It’s much easier walking without underbrush and seasonal growth impeding my progress. During the warm seasons, I can’t easily stray far off a trail because of it. This time of year I can walk wherever I want, and that’s more to my wandering style.
I set off into the woods, following no path, not even a deer trail. I walked where the ground was easiest, skirting around boulders, avoiding low spots or steep climbs. I just wandered wherever my feet took me. The leaves are deep and fluffy on the forest floor, as no rain has fallen since they fell. The leaves aren’t compressed at all, and my every step was crunchy and loud. I had no chance to sneak up on any woodland animal unannounced.
I noticed that a few leaves still cling to the trees. I suspect they will soon become the marcescent leaves of this winter. The beech leaves in today’s photo will likely be among those that hang on. Oddly, at least to me, a same-sized beech tree about 25 feet from this one has dropped all its leaves. Both trees look much the same in height and girth. Both appear healthy. Yet one hangs on to its leaves and the other has dropped them.
A few trees have leaves that haven’t yet turned color. Those are increasingly rare. Several small chestnut oaks huddled together in a tight group fall into that category. Is it because those leaves are so large?
Birds didn’t mind the noise I made as I crunched through the forest. Dark-eyed juncos are here in numbers now. Later, when I was back at the cabin, I saw the first of them eying my bird feeders. The juncos have been here since mid-October, but until now they apparently found plenty of natural food and didn’t need to visit the feeders. They are still cautious, sitting above the feeders, watching the chickadees and titmice flit in and out before daring to dip down and feed themselves.
The chickadees and titmice are working hard on the dessicated flowers of the tulip poplar trees. They flit from seed pod to pod so quickly that until I eyed them with binoculars, I suspected kinglets or gnatcatchers.
Just being outside in the daylight is already a treat. The time change and having to work for a living makes my daylight forays a thing of the weekends only. Yesterday was a day lovely enough to get me through the week until I can be outside during the daylight again.