October 29, 2012

Fall is beautiful, even once foliage is gone

The peak of fall color may be over, but there are still plenty of beautiful things to look at, especially if you can get up close. 

When I’m whizzing along the Northway on my way to work, only the showiest sights pop out. There is one spot I particularly like this time of the year, after most of the leaves have fallen. It’s a swampy area that has an expanding patch of winterberry, a native deciduous holly, growing alongside it. The berries are absolutely gorgeous right now, especially when the sun shines on them. They are bright red and easy to see from quite a distance. Soon they’ll be devoured by hungry birds so I’ve learned to pay special attention around this time each year so I don’t miss their annual show of color.

Many other beautiful sights are all around if you can get out into the woods. We are fortunate to have hiking/walking trails nearby on the Champlain Area Trails system,, as well as at Point Au Roche State Park and others.

Hunting season has begun, so I always wear a bright orange vest over my jacket, and our dog, my walking companion, wears one, too. Here are just some of the interesting things I’ve seen on my walks through the woods in the past two weeks.

Believe it or not, there is a shrub in bloom now. Witch hazel is native shrub that waits until its leaves turn yellow and start to fall before producing its annual flower show, sometime in mid- to late October. The bright yellow petals are delicate but appear in clusters so they aren’t too hard to spot if you’re looking. I find this beauty mostly along the edges of wooded trails and in hedgerows.

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