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.