Daily Archives: October 10, 2021

Leaving

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On Beaver Island, fall color comes first to the King’s Highway. Or, that’s where I notice it first. The long, mostly-paved road runs, after a few curves leading out of the downtown harbor area, straight down the middle of the island. A border of trees on the way out of town opens up to a few homes and businesses, and a couple old farmsteads. Then, for a good stretch, it becomes like a hallway, showcasing a mix of trees and foliage on both sides.

First, it’s only a slight dulling of the colors, less contrast between the many shades of green. It seems almost like a trick of the light. Comparison with the evergreen pine and cedar trees, that hold onto their bright tones, make the change undeniable. Then, the needles of the Tamarack turn yellow, and ferns surrender to variations of brown. Blackberry brambles are suddenly a wash of burgundy. Milkweed relaxes into shades of beige as the leaves dry up and the pods burst open.

Next, a maple tree will suddenly burst into color. The orange leaves still retain their green undersides, telling that their fall show is just barely getting started. Here and there among the other trees, a shot of yellow, a whisper of pink, a dash of gold. A little farther down, one single tree – I don’t know the kind – is clothed completely in red. When did that happen? Was the change overnight?

This year, a third of the way through October, we are just at the beginning. It’s impossible to know how long the colors will last, or how intense they will be. Much depends on the weather we’ve had up to this point in the year. The amount of moisture in the ground has a lot to do with how late or soon the colors change, how intense they are, and how long they last. Of course, winds and rain in this season can alter any predictions, too.

Soon, the pavement of the King’s Highway will become a canvas, each day covered with an ever-changing pattern of multi-colored leaves. The narrower dirt roads will wear carpets of falling leaves, as all of the trees through the whole island relax into fall. Sunshine streaming through bowers of gold make every walk or drive a breath-taking wonder. As always, I’m looking forward to it!