Friday, November 6, 2009

An Autumn Meadow

As I've said before, I love meadows. I like the open spaces, being able to see the sky, while also feeling the protection of the trees around me. I was so busy late this summer that I never made it out to see the goldenrod in bloom, so I had to settle for seeing it going to seed instead.

This milkweed plant was growing alongside the trail--it may even be the same one I photographed this past summer. I love the hard, sturdy pods, revealing as they crack open their delicate cargo. I am always amazed at the different ways plants have evolved to disperse their seeds--this has got to be one of the prettiest.

The butterfly weed, a close cousin of the milkweed, has a nearly identical seed. Pass an unmowed field this time of year and you'll see dozens of these puffballs of seeds, ready for a stiff wind to carry them to new places.

This pearly everlasting doesn't look so everlasting. Wonder if some bird fancies its seeds and picks it apart....

On the edges of the meadow are the ferns, which turn their own unique shades of gold and brown in the fall. One theory about fall color is that when photosynthesis stops and the leaves lose their chlorophyll, they turn back to their natural color. Essentially, the leaves are naturally the colors we see in the fall but chlorophyll production turns them green.

Also living in and around the meadow is this rather intimidating looking fellow, all prickly and pokey. I believe it's a blackberry cane. Its color is irresistible, shining brightly when so much else has already lost its color.

After leaving the meadows the trail passes over some pretty hilly terrain and through a forest of fairly mature trees. It's a beautiful woods with towering trees and an open understory, free for the most part of autumn olive and multi-flora rose (two horribly invasive species). I like woods like this, with long, open sight lines that allow you to see the contours of the land.
Toward the end of my hike the trail passes near a marsh, allowing for the backlighting of the forest, even on this dark and cloudy evening.

Bring on winter.

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