It has been a beautiful autumn here on Beaver Island. One for the record books, I think, with warm temperatures lasting well into November. Even the frost held off longer than usual, and several people remarked that they remembered “a foot of snow on the ground” by this time in other years.
The colors were outstanding. Maybe not as many reds as I’ve seen in other years, but the yellows, oh my! For one essay on a walk through the woods, I turned to Google, requesting “synonyms for yellow” as my vocabulary fell short of the brilliant colors around me. Every day, I’d think, “this must be peak color…” only to be proven wrong by the next day, and the next. I’d tell myself, “surely I have enough photographs of the colors this fall…” and then I’d chide myself for not having my camera when faced with yet another glorious landscape.
The greens turned to orange, and the yellows turned bronze as the weeks went by. The blends of colors changed, but only for the better, it seemed. As the fall winds shook leaves to the ground, it seemed to simply clarify and enhance the color that was left. A heavy rain turned the tree trunks dark, which proved a brilliant foil to the glistening leaves. Fall continued that way, longer than any of us expected, and probably longer than we deserved.
No more. A week of high winds caused our ferry boat to abort one trip, and cancel a couple others. It made us contemplative about “the winds of November” on the anniversary of the sinking of the Edmund Fitzgerald. It took down trees and power lines. And it stripped the trees of their bright colors.
I’ve saved what I could of the color, in autumn leaves pressed in the pages of books, and in one thousand photographs. The view, though, has moved into a drearier realm. I offer a sigh, for another season gone and a bleaker landscape ahead.
Fresh snow this morning!
I am so happy to see it!
It’s not the first, this year. We’ve had snow, cold and icy, clinging to the windshields, making roads difficult and reminding us that winter is on its way to Beaver Island.
This is the first “fluffy” snow.
This snow has power.
It has already softened the landscape. You almost wouldn’t know that I didn’t get my garden clean-up done. It’s no longer obvious that my lawn hasn’t been mowed since late August…and now it won’t be, either, until springtime! It’s impossible to tell that there are leaves under that snow, that I never got around to raking up.
This snow has greatly improved the look of my “to-do” list, just by blanketing all of the undone tasks in soft white.
It has also changed my outlook.
I’m starting to look forward to the holidays. I’m thinking of the inside activities that this weather is good for: reading, writing and art-making. I’m thinking of comfort foods: soups and stews and casseroles. Baking, for the warmth of having the oven going, and all the goodness that brings. Sleeping under layers of comforters and quilts. I’m thinking of all the little projects around the house that I didn’t have time for in the summer. It’s time now!
Today, after work, I’m heading for the Stoney Acre Grill to meet friends. Today, we play Pub Trivia! We have our own Powers’ Hardware team, and there is some good competition. It’s all good-natured competition, though, and it benefits a good cause, the Beaver Island Food Pantry. It’s going to be a good day!
Last week there were reds and yellows in the woods, standing out against burnished shades of gold and occasional greens.
Several days of strong wind did not diminish the display.
Rather, as some of the leaves dropped, the sun was able to shine through the branches, making the leaves that still clung to them more radiant in the glow.
This week, after several cold nights and more wind accompanied by heavy rain, all the colors have gone brown.
We’re in copper season now!
There was a dusting of icy snow on my car when I left for work yesterday morning, a winter-like chill in the air when I walked the dogs in the evening. The wind is howling now.
I’m collecting the memories of these penny-bright days, warm sun through fiery leaves, to carry me through the next – colder – season.
In the Summer, these leaves are nothing special.
A simple leaf shape. A plain green color.
In Autumn, when other trees are sporting dozens of shades at once in hues from brightest yellow to deep magenta, these leave fade – uniformly – to this pale, barely orange tone. Tree wide, without variation.
It’s only in the Winter when I start to take notice of them.
These are the only leaves still clinging to the branches.
Some days, when the snow blankets the ground and the sunless days leave the pine needles looking black, these leaves are the only bit of color in the woods.
All through the Winter, and right into Spring, they hang on.
Through winter storms that stripped pine trees of their branches and caused tall maples to bow, these leaves just stayed.
That alone is pretty remarkable.
I look down when I walk.
I like the patterns of leaves and pine needles strewn across the path.
I enjoy seeing the way my footprints and the paw-prints of my two dogs mingle with the heart-shaped hoof prints left by deer, and the large twiggy prints left by ranging flocks of wild turkeys, on the road created by the logging trucks that cuts through the woods behind my house.
I like to watch the dogs as they, by turns, walk purposefully forward as if headed for a specific destination, meander – nose to the ground – investigating what went this way before us, and run, full out, after a chipmunk or robin or squirrel.
Out of necessity, I watch the ground for safety’s sake. In the winter, ice; this time of year, it’s holes in the road or wind-fall branches or frost-heaved rocks that could trip me up.
So it happened that I was almost a mile from home this morning, before I noticed the sky. Such a beautiful, intense blue! How could I have missed it?
More important, what if I had missed it?
How many things go unnoticed because I’m looking down when I should be looking up? And what a metaphor for life!
It’s a fine thing to be well-grounded, but I intend to spend more time looking up!