Where the Wild Things Are- Fall Sounds

The woods are quiet these days. There is no longer the bustle of raising young. Fledglings soaring far from the nest. You can hear the rustle in the fallen leaves of some small creature foraging. A tapping in the trees may be a wookpecker, in search of a tasty bug, but could also be a dry leaf, tapping on a branch. The wind makes the brown leaves rattle, quaking and big toothed aspen almost bare. The tamarac will be turning soon. Golden needles briefly guild the trees, then hit the ground like rain. Tamarac are the only Coniferous tree species that are deciduous. I know, in school you were taught that a tree was either coniferous or deciduous. It is a bit more murky than that. A deciduous tree is defined as on that do not bear their seed in cones and have broad leaves that drop in the fall. A conifer is one that does bear it's seeds in cones and has narrow or overlapping leaves. So needles are really skinny leaves, a tree can have needles and still lose them in the fall, and a conifer can lose it's "needles"  and still be a conifer. Now you know why we teach children there are coniferous and deciduous trees. Because the explanation is easier. 

All that being said, if you have a problem Iding trees, fall can be helpful. For instance, you will now know which trees are tamaracks, as they turn yellow and then drop their needles. Maples turn blazing yellows and reds and stand out in a tree line, so if you can't id them in the woods, go stand a ways off and look. The oaks are generally the last to turn, and usually are browns and deep reds. Some of them hold onto their leaves through the winter (so are they then coniferous dieciduous's??) so any trees holding brown or most likely deep red leaves after the first storms of winter are oaks.

Hazelnuts, which are technically a bush, not a tree, can be told apart in the fall. The beaked hazelnut has leaves that turn yellow, the other, American hazelnut, turns red. Most of what I have seen here are the American ones. We also have another member of that family on the land, the Hop-hornbeam. No actual nuts there, but hops, or hop like fruit. This tree should not be confused with the Hornbeam or Ironwood, which is in the birch family. 

So when you are out staring at the bright fall foliage, you might want to take a closer look. Or not. Just being out in the woods this time of year is reward enough.

Where the Wild Things Are- Blessings of the Wild

The woods is changing. It, of course, has been changing all summer long. Plants grow and fade. Blossoms of one week are gone the next, replaced by seemingly endless varieties. But these changes go further. Foliage once vivid green is fading to yellows. Bright reds ease into the shadows. In a normal year the brown grasses would have given warning. A softening that allows us to slowly accept the inevitable. This years rains have kept the grass green and growing beyond that time. The startling orange of the maple feels out of place. We aren't tired of endless hot, dry days. We are left feeling like we were somehow cheated out of proper summer. Can it really be Fall already? 

If it makes you feel better, the color changes are a bit early this year. You aren't imagining it. And on the brightside, the fall colors are predicted to be amazing. All I can do is recommend that you savor every minute. All to soon it will be....nope. I will not say it. Live life in the moment!

The Aster's and Goldenrods are amazing. Yellows, blues and whites dot the landscape. I am slowly sorting them out, but sometimes it seems an uphill battle. More photos, revisiting plants to look for clues missed the first time. Just when I think I know what to pay attention to in IDing, the species change and the important parts change also. In Goldenrod it is the size and shape of the blossoms and heads, and leaf shape. In Asters, where the leaves are, how many petals in a flower, the color, not of the petals but the center, and what color it changes to as it fades. I might do better if I wasn't distracted by the pollinators, buzzing around. I haven't even tried to sort out types of bees, content for now with just snapping photos for later perusal. 

As the seasons march on I am still amazed by the fact that each time I go out I see things I haven't seen before. The blessings of the wild...