Thursday, October 23, 2008

Autumn Along the Allegheny

It has been awhile since I worked on this blog--a lot has been happening around here. In addition to my sore toe and knee, we have had out of town visitors and are working on more remodeling in our home. Or rather, Charlie is working on the remodeling and I am trying to stay out of his way!

The autumn leaves, while not as spectacular as in years when we had colder autumn nights, are still rather beautiful. They are waning a bit as rain and wind take their toll, but I was able to fit in several autumn leaf tours in the last few weeks. The most spectacular displays were in Kinzua Dam country, with golds, yellows, maroons and reds sparkling in the sunshine. I drove to Jake's Rocks high above the reservoir and caught some photos of the rocks, plants and even a chipmunk. The brilliant blue sky set off the details of the scenery and it created photo opportunities for shutterbugs from all over. As time has passed, the brilliant colors have transformed into muted shades of earth tones such as the rich browns of the oaks, which will retain their leaves well into the fall and winter months. The papery wheat-colored beech leaves quiver in the breeze as they still cling for dear life to their mother tree. The feathery rubicund sumac leaves camouflage the fuzzy crimson berries.

Below the overcoat of the autumn woodland lie the smaller, less apparent plants, like the Indian Cucumber Root with its shiny black berries carried above flaxen leaves that are painted with dabs of cranberry. Various types of ferns, shrubs, vines and mushrooms flaunt stages of growth and hibernation--Christmas fern and its leathery green leaves provide a spot of green against the winter's icy white; red wintergreen and partridgeberries show a hint of Christmas season colors; sassafras sheds its yellow-green mittens contrary to the coming cold blast. And everywhere I strolled I found broken acorns left behind by foraging squirrels and chipmunks, crunching underfoot with snaps as crisp as the chilly autumn day.

This is a time of year to play in the woods with your camera. Yes, I am advocating cameras in place of the guns of autumn! Take pictures and memories, leave only a trace of tracks. (Wear blaze orange during hunting season though--we don't want your lifeless carcass dragged out because you blended in with nature too well....

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