|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 beeShall 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 bearThe 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.