Monday, November 1, 2010

November Muse Day and Fall Color Project

Salt Fork Forest Preserve
"Yet one smile more, departing, distant sun!
One mellow smile through the soft vapory air,
Ere, o'er the frozen earth, the loud winds run,
Or snows are sifted o'er the meadows bare.
One smile on the brown hills and naked trees,
And the dark rocks whose summer wreaths are cast,
And the blue gentian-flower, that, in the breeze,
Nods lonely, of her beauteous race the last.
Yet a few sunny days, in which the bee
Shall murmur by the hedge that skirts the way,
The cricket chirp upon the russet lea,
And man delight to linger in thy ray.
Yet one rich smile, and we will try to bear
The piercing winter frost, and winds, and darkened air."
                                                  -   William Cullen Bryant
November. . . the time of year when most of us no doubt would agree with Bryant's poem, wishing for a few more sunny days warm enough to see bees or a few more lingering blooms before the cold winter sets in for good. 

While we have had more than our fair share of sunny days, we did have a hard frost last Thursday that signalled the end for all but a few hardy annuals and perennials.  This late coneflower apparently got confused and missed the announcement that the Coneflower Show is held here in July.

Besides the frost, last week we had days of strong winds that stripped many of the trees of their leaves.  Always the procrastinator, I waited too long to take the perfect photos I wanted for Dave's Fall Color Project.   I did manage to take a shot of the golden leaves of the ash tree next to our house, featured on my Bloom Day post.

But I missed the optimal time for the ash tree further out in the front yard, which has an almost burgundy cast to its leaves in early autumn.

While I waited for the just the right time at home, I set out two weeks ago with Sophie for an afternoon walk at the Forest Preserve not far from my house.  It may have been too early for the peak color show, but it did seem that this year's fall color has been more subdued.

Still, the maples have been magnificent as usual this year, in various arrays of oranges and blazing reds.

Yellows and golds were apparent, too.

One of these days I'm going to take a course on trees, so I can identify what I'm looking at, besides the maples and oaks.

Sophie loves to visit this area.  We never know what treasures we might find here . . . a mussel or clam shell in the heart of landlocked central Illinois??

Of course, to find the best treasure, you must get off the beaten path and take one of the trails.  Sophie was so excited she literally pulled me into this trail.  While she kept her nose alert for unusual scents, I was more interested in visual stimuli.

This shrub with bright red berries was a common sight along the path.  At first I thought it was a dogwood, but the leaves are opposite rather than alternate.  Can anyone identify it?  Update--it's a bush honeysuckle, a very invasive plant, which explains why there were so many of them.  Thanks, Gail, for the i.d.--bloggers are the best!

Faded red leaves drooping on another plant reminded me of sumac, but again I'm not sure.  Bright red sumac dots the roadsides in our area in early autumn.

The leaves of this tree were just beginning to turn to burgundy.

Finally, a plant I recognized!  Pokeweed with its bright red stems and purple berries certainly adds color to the fall landscape.

But my favorite scene of all was this one, in green and brown.  You might want to enlarge this photo to get the full effect.  Had Sophie not been so eager to keep moving, I would have loved to sit down on this log for awhile just enjoying the quiet.

The fall colors may not be as deep and striking this year because of the hot, dry summer, but it's been a glorious autumn nevertheless.

The peak of fall color here was probably a week ago, but there are still colorful sights in the landscape.  Back at home, the leaves of the old Bur Oak are just beginning to turn.

Their colors are muted golds and browns, not as showy as other trees.  But this granddaddy oak doesn't need any gaudy plumage to be impressive.

The leaves of the burning bushes seem slower in changing to red this year;
perhaps they won't be as striking as last year.

They're still full of berries, however, a favorite of the birds, including the cardinals who usually build a nest or two here each spring.

But the favorite roost for the birds has to be the white flowering crab, so full of red fruit.  While the other flowering crabapple trees lost all their leaves some time ago, this one is a showstopper in the fall.

We have over thirty pine trees on our property which provide a nice evergreen border throughout the winter.  But look at the "fall interest" below this bough . . .

Lots of pine straw for free mulch!  A gardener's gold.

In the fall, though, what really catches everyone's eye is the lone maple in our front yard.  Each day it adds a little more color.  Two weeks ago, it was wearing only an orange hat.

But yesterday morning it had put on its full fall dress uniform.

My favorite tree this time of year, its leaves positively glow in the sunlight.

In all too short a time, the colors of autumn will be gone . . .

 . . . leaving us with a world in black and white.

For other scenes of fall color all across the country, be sure to visit Dave   for a complete list. 
And many thanks to Carolyn Gail, the hostess for another monthly Garden Muse Day.


  1. Your post is just full of goodness! Love that poem, shots from your walk, and most of all that magnificent tree! Lucky you to have that specimen right in the front yard!

  2. What an enjoyable walk with you and Sophie. Fall is here and we should all take time to be out while it is still comfortable. Take in the glow and warmth of the lingering sun. Wonderful poem.

  3. Rose, I love it when you and Sophie take us for a walk, especially when poetry goes along for the stroll. That maple in your yard must be a traffic stopper when it's in full dress uniform as you so aptly described it. You know, I'm stumped as to what your mystery plant (the one with the berries) is. It reminds me of Callicarpa, but the berries are the wrong color. I'm pretty sure I saw this same plant when we walked the trails near Rend Lake a couple of years ago. Surely, someone who visits here will be able to identify it for you.

  4. You got some lovely shots of fall foilage. What a nice area you have to stroll through.

  5. Ah, the lone maple is gorgeous!! The ash tree too. I love the fall color of White Ashes.

  6. What a great post. I forgot it was Muse Day - but I am glad you chose one of our local poets. He lived not far from us in Cummington and work is being done on his house to protect it from the depredations of time and weather. I'm going to have to find out about the Color Project!

  7. Hi Rose.....I love the forest. Me and my dog, yes I can relate to that. Green and brown is good and often overlooked. The old trunk looked liked the perfect place to sit and reflect for just a short while. Young dogs are eager to explore.....sitting and biding time comes with the passing of time.

    The maple is stunning, and shows autumn in all her glory. There is something so emotive about autumn. It sprinkles it,s magic all around me, and always, but always, leaves me feeling nostalgic. As someone who is so very in touch with her emotions, I believe this is why I love autumn so much.

    You have, without doubt, captured the very essence of the season....a pleasure to walk with you and Sophie. I would have truly loved to be with you both.

  8. Beautiful Rose! I know it's been hard this year to find the peak foliage in the trees. This summer wreaked havoc on ours here too. Despite that though you found some very good fall color. Maples tend to be one of my favorites. Boy am I envious of all that free mulch!

  9. Oh, I just love your fall shots! Even the black and white is striking!
    The poetry is very fitting.
    I cannot believe November is already here. I have to go get a turkey!

  10. Your maple is just beautiful! Such a kaleidoscope of color! Love the fall color under the pines. I consider those pine needles pure gold for the garden (though they are surely a drab brown:). Enjoy the fall and give Sophie hugs for that nice walk in the woods/.

  11. I'm so glad you were 'more interested in visual stimuli' Rose, I think you might have looked just a little undignified down on all fours sniffing the ground with Sophie :)

    What a lovely walk it was! The Autumnal colours are so special, I too wish I could identify trees more easily, my Mother could name every one we encountered.

    I love the Oak, there is something magical about them I always think, I wonder how old the one you showed us is. I also thought your Maple was beautiful.

    I used to have a lovely Sumac Tree in my garden but it succumbed to the wind as did the one in my Mother's garden years ago, also my Aunt's and my brother's!

  12. Your front Maple is amazing!

    What lovely photos, your walk looked familiar, like a walk I know here. So lovely to see all the colours agains a blue sky rather than grey :-)

  13. I loved the way you took a photo of that maple two weeks later. A most wonderful sight. Love all your pictures of Autumn colours.
    Maggie X

    Nuts in May

  14. Cyndy, Thanks; the maple has the most perfect shape, too.

    Lisa, I may not be getting as much work done as I'd like, but I'm trying to enjoy every minute of this season.

    W2W, Sophie has helped me to see things I've never noticed before. I'm hoping, too, that someone will be able to identify the plant; I guess I could try to look it up myself:)

    Sherlock, The preserve we visited is only a 10-minute drive from my house, and yet I don't visit it as often as I should.

    Sweetbay, I don't usually think of ashes as having pretty fall color, but they do, don't they?

    Pat, Your area must be so full of rich historical legacies. I can think of so many literary greats from New England--I envy you!

    Cheryl, I have the same kind of emotions every spring. Next time you come to visit, we'll have to take time for a walk at Homer Lake...with Sophie, of course! We might even get her to sit for awhile so we can just sit and absorb the peace and quiet of this place.

    Dave, The maples don't seem to have been affected at all by the drought this year and look as stunning as ever. Thanks for hosting this project every year!

    Rosey, I think you still have time to find a turkey:) But I have started thinking about my Thanksgiving menu already.

    Maleviks, How nice of you to visit!

    Tina, the pine straw seems to be especially thick this year; I'm collecting as much as I can for winter mulch. I need to listen to Sophie and get out in the woods more often:)

    Songbird, Lol, I wouldn't worry so much about my dignity as how I would get back up from all fours:) I once found a formula for determining age of different oaks based on their circumference a few feet from the ground. If I figured it out right, this oak is over 200 years old. Needless to say, it's a special tree to me.

    Suburbia, We've had lots of blue skies lately... in fact, we could certainly do with some cloudy ones--it's been so dry here.

    Maggie May, Every day I would watch the tree turn just a little more orange. I love being outside this time of year!

  15. Wow two Memes in one post, way to go Rose. Lots of pretty fall color in your area. I've been meaning to get out and take some pics in my area too. :)

  16. What a beautiful maple! The forest preserve near you looks lovely too. Despite the dryness late in the summer most of the trees have still managed to put on a great show.

  17. Everything will be as in W. Bryant poem - frost, winds, darkened air and, I should add rains!
    As you, I missed some trees in their prime autimn color. They change so fast! I took my dog for a long walk today. It was fabulous around, despite the heavy non-stop rain!

  18. We are with you, dear Rose, and all hangin' on for 'yet one smile more' :) Thank you for the lovely post.

  19. Thanks for taking us on the walk Rose. I enjoyed it so much. Loved seeing all those wonderful colors.

    I wonder where that shell did come from?

  20. It has been a subdued fall for dramatic colors. Although, your maple is gorgeous! That wind storm was something else!

    The serrated leaves~I think are Smooth Sumac and the others look like bush honeysuckles...But, I cannot be sure!


  21. That mussel shell did give me pause ... wouldn't you love to know the story of how it came to be there? Fall color may be more subdued than usual in your part of the world but it looks lovely to me!

  22. Lovely as usual. And what a fabulous maple as you say. Gorgeous colours of autumn.

  23. Yes, Bush Honeysuckle. A thug, without the fragrance of its thuggish, viney cousin. It spreads everywhere (birds love it). Hard to root out. My sympathy.


  24. Rose, wonderful fall photos. I agree that this hasn't been the best year for color, but there are exceptions such as your maple tree. I heard that part of the lackluster color is because we are so dry, but I think it is both that and the heat that stressed our trees.

    The girls love going to Homer Lake-next year we will take them and Sophie and they can run and explore while we sit and enjoy. :)

  25. Hi Rose, That is definitely a sumac, but I'm stymied on the other one you're trying to ID. Your photos are gorgeous as usual - aren't trees the absolute best!

  26. Thanks for the lovely walk through your fall landscape. Wonderful photos Rose.

  27. Racquel, I almost waited too long to take photos and did miss a few better photo ops.

    Rose, The forest preserve is a popular place in the summer, but I had the whole place to myself on this October day:)

    Tatyana, I know the rain can get old in the Northwest, but here in the Midwest we would love to have some! It's been a very, very dry summer and fall.

    Joey, I'm enjoying each moment because I know it won't last forever.

    Susie, There must be some kind of mussels native here, but this one was bigger than anything I've seen.

    Gail, I finally checked out the honeysuckle, and you are right! Thanks so much! They are very invasive, I guess, which explains why I saw so many of them.

    Cindy, I guess I should do a little investigation about mussels in this area.

    Liz, Glad you enjoyed the show!

    Kathryn, You and Gail are right, and my source tells me it's very invasive. I won't be planting any here:)

    Beckie, I've been pleasantly surprised how pretty this fall has been, because I thought, too, with our hot and dry summer, the trees would be pretty dull this fall. An outing with the girls and Sophie at Homer Lake sounds great!

    Amy, This time of year the garden definitely takes a back seat to the trees!

    Janet, Thanks for sharing this walk with me.

  28. Hi, Rose!
    Interesting that you have mussels and clams in Illinois. I'll bet Sophie has a blast snooping around out there. We've had beautiful lingering color and I didn't know why until I read your post - no wind. Which is rare. I hope it stays that way just a wee bit longer. I love autumn...

    Hope you're have a marvy week.

  29. I enjoyed walking the path with you. Your trees are lovely. I like having evergreens in the winter, as birds find shelter there.
    Your crabapple reminded me of a tree in my son's backyard. I spent my birthday with son and family recently, happened to look out the kitchen window at their crabapple tree, when suddenly a male cardinal appeared. Then a female, then a whole bunch of them. It felt like a nice birthday gift!

    I like your maple with orange hat and then fully dressed. The colours are sparkling! I noticed this year our fall colours were nice, but not as colourful as in years past. Maybe our hot and dry summer too! I don't know as summer has whizzed by this year.

    I'm sure I'm forgetting lots of things to comment on, but....oh yes, your green and brown space looks positively enchanting!

  30. Thanks for taking me along on your dog walk! Our fall, other than the maples, wasn't as bright this year either. We use raked up pine needles on the path to our tree house to keep out the weeds. I love how you altered the last image to black and white to give a wintery effect. Wonderful images.

  31. Hi!
    The colors in the pictures are very beautiful and I could not resist having a second look. Especially the picture with red berries is awesome.
    Autumn definitely has a lot of charm in its own way :)

  32. The maple's 'hat' is quite a spot of brightness which descends to full robes. Love the maples for their fall color but their shallow roots are a challenge. I also love the path through the woods. Tucker and Cooper would like to join Sophie on a nice long walk.

  33. Sophie certainly took you for a lovely walk through the woods! So much to see and I think this time of year we tend to look a bit harder because we are not sidetracked by the lovely summer flowers that usually capture our attention.When they have faded and gone by Nov. we yearn to discover other treasures that Mother Nature the changing colors of the trees and if we don't pay attention as you have posted we lose the opportunity as the leaves fall almost overnight!
    Here the Oaks hold onto their leaves a bit longer so I enjoy each and every one.
    Perhaps I'll see you in Az this winter!

  34. What beautiful verse Rose!

    You and Sophie sure have a wonderful place to go to for a walk - it's lovely there. You've captured fall splendidly in your photos.

    What a blessing having all those trees on your land. They're all wonderful, and what fantastic character your burr oak has!

  35. Your woodland walk was so fun.
    I too have been enjoying these amazing November days. We do need some rain so once again I will get out the ash wands and do a bit of a dance.
    Lovely, lovely autumn leaves.

  36. I enjoyed the walk with you and Sophie. I can imagine her excitement going down that lane.

    Your colors look awesome to me. I have trouble judging when the peak fall color is here. It gets away from me before I figure it out. I keep thinking I want to submit a post for Dave's project, but haven't so far.


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