Thursday, November 18, 2010

Autumn Sun

It has been a very dry fall here in Southeast Michigan. Ponds and marshes are drying up, and we had very little in the way of fall color as most of the leaves just sort of dried up and died.

The upshot of this is we can now walk from our property to the trail at the southwest corner of the Brighton Rec Area. Usually we are separated by a marshy creek, which is passable only with the help of waders and a long stick. But this year we were able to navigate the marsh without getting our feet wet.

We took our walk on a beautiful late autumn day, a day the temperature hit 68 degrees, a record. Our journey starts here, on our property. We then cut across our neighbor's land, along a natural gas pipeline easement. The easement crosses the marsh, and then runs along the west edge of the state land, where we pick up the trail.

I love the woods this time of the year. I love the openness and the low, soft light of a winter sun.

We made our way round to our favorite place in these woods, where in the spring the ground is covered with ferns and wildflowers. In November, however, there are only the remains of the inhabitants, all tucked in and waiting for winter. Maiden hair fern stands brown against a browner background.

Milkweed sheds its shining seeds in the autumn breeze.

The swamp, which is usually pretty dry this time of year, yields no water this fall.

But all is not asleep. Witch hazel, or winterbloom, is showing its delicate yellow flowers. Its bendable branches were often used for divining rods, which would come in handy this fall.

The hepatica too is still lively, purple-veined leaves ready to wait out the winter snows. This will be one of the first plants to bloom in the spring.

There are many dead oaks around the swamp, palettes for bird and ant to create their abstract art.

As we were able to push farther into the usually swampy area we found some things we have missed in the past, like this young oak, witness to a by-gone time when fences created irrelevant boundaries.

Perhaps one day they will all be consumed, and we all will once again be able to move freely through our world.


  1. As always, your photos are fabulous, but I really enjoy photos taken in the fall because of that special lighting.

    Did you see Great Migrations on NatGeo? The part about the Monarch butterflies said they can't always find food to eat (when migrating) because of the lack of milkweed. They like the toxic kind. I know that farmers/ranchers try to get rid of any type of milkweed because it sours milk. I wish this cycle could be broken. Anyway, any info about which toxic milkweed I could plant (or a non-toxic milkweed that would work) in my garden patch would be appreciated. You are Lori are walking encyclopedias about this stuff!!!

    Back at the being life, it's good to have good karma back. Oy, enough of the bad stuff! (Of course, bad is relative and I don't have any real complaints or whine.)

  2. Lovely autumn photos with that special clear light. And wonderful to see one of the first plants peep up. Life goes on.
    Grethe ´)

  3. Kittie: We don't have cable so don't get NatGeo, tho' I do read the magazine. While monarch caterpillars will only feed on a few milkweed species the adults will sip nectar from a wider variety of plants. If you want to help monarchs as they migrate, follow this link:

  4. Thanks, Marie! The Monarch scenes in Great Migrations were too fantastic for words. We just sat there, awe-struck.

    And thanks for the background color suggestion. I'd been changing background colors to indicate a new post but hadn't realized some of the colors were too harsh. Will be more sensitive to that and REALLY appreciate your in-put!

    Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours!

  5. We had good rains in the middle of the summer, but now it is dry. The wind blows fiercely today. In our grove, I find barbed wire like you did. I have to remove it lest the livestock get cut. I've two bundles of really old barbed wire -- some from the 19th century -- that I keep as a collection. I'd like to post on it one day. I'm sorry to hear about your marsh not having the water as usual. --Jack, Sage to Meadow

  6. Kittie: you are most welcome.

    Jack: I understand about the cattle--when we were leaving that tree Lori got tangled up in a bit of wire that was on the ground and nearly fell. I'd really like to see that post!

  7. Hej Marie!
    My son was here today to help me with my new computer, and I told him to take a look at your fungus-photos. It's just that I have misunderstood something,for although it is easy to see if it is i.e. a boleta etc., then he dare not estimate any fungus growing in USA. There are too many varieties. But if it was a plant then he would be ready!I'm sorry, this is my fault.
    Grethe ´)

  8. No problem, Grethe, I appreciate your help none the less. I know better next time to get more information!