Sep 12 2009

The Fall of the Leaf Begins

 
Autumn in this part of the country is a spectacular display of color. It’s almost as if the land is throwing one last shebang before the long, cold, icy months to come. Summer is short, but autumn is even shorter. Still, its first hints come in mid- to late-August, when the bright greens of summer leaves begin to dull and darken before the first blush of bright color spreads. Meadow wildflowers still wave in the breeze, attracting butterflies and bees, and some days are hot. But the nights are noticeably longer, geese are practicing touch-and-goes on the Flow, and some songbirds have vanished, starting on their long journey south.

This is a season that I look forward to every year, and it’s difficult to sit at a desk working when there’s so much to see and do outside. I’ve been riding and hiking as often as I can get away. And I can’t get enough photos chronicling the season. Here are a few from the last three weeks, beginning with this mixed flock of molting mallards, who enjoyed preening in the shallows on a warm morning:

 

Ducks in Molt

 
The ducks are taking their ease before the harsh conditions to come, but others are as busy as can be, gathering the season’s bounty for winter storage. Chipmunks know there’s not a moment to be lost:

 

Fat-Cheeked Chipmunk

 
Chipmunks are quite happy to perch in trees, but frogs are a different story:

 

Frog in Pool

 
Frogs won’t be out and about long, and the one above is basking in sun which is already failing to rise far in the southern sky. He lives in a pool beside The River, a shallow, warm, and protected pool like this one:

 

Pool Reflections

 
Still pools make wonderful mirrors of the sky and overhanging trees.

 

Pool Reflections

 
A ridge of bedrock separates stillwater from rapids:

 

Still and Moving

 
The rapids’ roar is always there, even as I sit at my desk half a mile away. I feel it through my feet, and hear it in my sleep. The water’s low now but fast.

 

Narrow Drop

 

Fast Moving River

 
But of course, it’s the colors which draw the eye most of all at this season.

 

Maple Leaves

 
The beech and maple leaves are turning, and in this shot below, the beech are falling across the lens’ view:

 

Maple Leaves

 
There’s still plenty of green, though.

 

Island Vista

 
Long, silky strands of algae swirl in the current, accented by red maple leaves:

 

Maple Leaves and Algae

 
Then there are the yellow birch leaves…

 

Beech Leaves

 

Beech Leaves

 

Beech Leaves

 
For many people, though, it’s those red and golden maple leaves that bring them in by the busload to snap photos:

 

Maple Leaves

 

Maple Leaves

 
Even rainy days are colorful:

 

Pines in the Rain

 
Jewelweed, aka touch-me-not, are among my most favorite wildflowers, and some still remain in the sheltered places, but they’re dropping now and leaving behind swollen seed cases which explode when raindrops hit them or a passing hiker rubs against them.

 

Jewelweed

 
In a week or two, the leaves will be even more colorful and falling by the ton. Stay tuned!More photos of this colorful season can be found in the Outside Up North Photo Gallery Enjoy!

 
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