October 10, 2023

Things are mostly still green…


September showed up right on schedule and lasted a whole month.

-Jenny Wingfield


The days have gotten cool again, with lows in the mid 40s and highs in the low 60s.  It’s been a bit rainy on some days, too, but no great downpours.  The temperatures have been low enough that I can wear my rainsuit without sweltering.  Waldo and I are still walking in the mornings, but no more pre-dawn treks.  Even when it’s not raining, I’m wearing a light jacket to stay warm.  It’s amazing how fast the weather changes around here.  The forecast for next week has highs in the low 70s and lows in the mid 50s.  That’s within Waldo walking range, any time of the day.    Today, as we start out at ten AM, the temp is fifty-eight, there’s no rain, the skies are cloudy and there’s a breath of a breeze.  I’m comfy in my jacket and look forward to our walk without drowning in sweat or sloshing in puddles.

Despite the lower temperatures, the leaves are still mostly green – although I can see, off in the distance, rare small patches of red in the tree tops.  There’s been no freezes yet to force the issue.  On the ground are a few dead leaves and branches left there by recent moderate winds.  Hurricane Lee stirred up some good breezes a week or so ago as it brushed by us in a glancing blow, but they’ve gone now.  It won’t be too much longer and the rail-trail will turn into the yellow brick road because of fall, but not yet.  The one thing that does show that autumn is soon upon us are the many shriveled weeds now bearing balls of seeds in burrs, just off the side of the trail.  Common burdock, in particular, drives Waldo nuts when its offspring get tangled in his fur.

I enjoy being out here in the woods this time of year, watching as Mother Nature prepares to sleep for the winter.  The black walnut trees drop their green fruit on the ground, which I like to kick down the tarmac as we walk along.  Soon, the mighty oaks will be throwing their acorns at us in handfuls.  There’s some on the ground now, but in a few weeks, I won’t be able to go outside without hearing a thunk as one smacks a car parked below.  Here are some small dents in the roof of my car from previous years and I can’t think of any other way they might have gotten there.

I like to guess which trees will color-out first.  Maples start the show, of course, and sometime later come the oaks.  But I haven’t yet worked out the sequence for the sumacs, birches, aspens, sassafras, hickory and all the others.  Once the coloration is done, I try to guess who will be dropping their leaves first and last.  I remember, a while back, being puzzled by seeing so many oak leaves on the ground, and yet finding only maples growing nearby.  That puzzle was solved by looking up.  You don’t see many oak leaves close to the ground because their branches reach skyward in inverted cones, producing canopies high off the ground where their leaves are hard to identify.  Maples, on the other hand, have more of a spherical shape, with plenty of leaves down low and in your face.

It’s hard to tell if Waldo notices any of this going on.  He seems to be completely oblivious to the presence of the damn common burdock burrs as he sidles up to what’s left of the bushes, doing his Waldo thing.  I don’t think he’s even drawn a correlation between the plants and the annoying spikey balls that get all wrapped up in his hair.  He just walks along and then stops to turn and bite at the aggravating, unwanted irritation in his side, leg, back, neck, or any other place they congregate.  It’s like they just beamed into existence just to annoy him.

He does have a doggy sense of the passage of time though.  He knows when it’s time to go to bed, to eat and to go out for a walk, for example.  I wonder if he notices the differences in how the world smells as the seasons come and go and how those differences evolve as the year ages on.  I’ll bet he does – he sees the world through his nose, you know.

At the moment, we seem to be in a kind of an uncertain hiatus – a kind of escheresque transition, not summer anymore and not yet fully autumn either.  Not even the weather can decide whether to be warm or cool.

It’s September, out here in the woods.


…although, there is some color here and there.

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