Retired teacher Larry Weber is the author of several books, including “Butterflies of the North Woods,” “Spiders of the North Woods,” “Webwood” and “In a Patch of Goldenrods.” Contact him c/o email@example.com.
- Member for
- 3 years 9 months
Most of us are not likely to think of July or August when out walking in the scene of November. The landscape is quite bare after the trees have dropped their colorful foliage of last month. The autwin woods reveals plenty of green plants now visible on the forest floor before the impending snows will hide them from us for the next several months. ("Autwin" is what I call the period of time after leaves fall and before lasting snow arrives.)
Each year at about the middle of October, we experience the leaf-drop. The foliage that has been on the tree branches since mid-May finally responds to the weakening abscission layers on their petioles (leaf stalks). After a glorious color show that keeps us all looking, they fall to the ground. This leaf-dropping phenomenon was anticipated. We knew that it was about to happen, but it usually takes a weather event to bring down the bulk of the leaves that started to fall weeks ago. This year, it happened with quite a bang.
In October we continue to take note of Northland trees. The colorful leaf show that began and expanded through September reaches its finale during these days. After all the reds and yellows of the last several weeks, the drop from the trees is a showy exit. The curtain comes down for most of the arboreal neighbors at about the time we are in mid-month.
The colorful leaf scene of autumn every year stretches from the first of September until the first of November. During these two months we witness a slow, almost reluctant, surrender of the green colors to yellows, oranges and reds early in the show. It speeds up greatly as we progress through the days and late summer becomes autumn. Such a long period has many changes, so I refer to these weeks of colorful fall foliage in four phases.
Now that we have passed the autumnal equinox, there are many facets of the season to observe. The days are shorter with a sunrise at about 7:20 a.m. and setting near 6:30 p.m. We have more time of darkness than light. This continues until the vernal equinox in March.
Living here as we do, we are surrounded by trees. Mostly, we take them for granted and except for a few times during the year, we hardly even take a close look at them. Roughly seven months of the year (mid-October until mid-May) the nearby forests of deciduous trees are devoid of leaves. The green landscape is nearly depleted and only the local conifer species keep this color around us.
Continuing the pattern of June, July and August, September began by being warmer and wetter than normal. It is not unusual to be wet during the first half of this cooling month that takes us into autumn and the waning of our rainy season. But when we got two thunderstorms with rainfall of about 1 inch each ("heavy" rainfall is more than 0.30 inches of rain per hour) along with another in late August, this was more than expected. And like all weather happenings in nature, it brings on responses.
The day is clear and the afternoon is warm. I'm going out to pick blackberries in a favorite patch l've discovered. I wait until the afternoon for this berry-gathering so that the morning dew has dissipated and I am able to pick without getting too wet. It's a bit of a walk to get to this growth of blackberries and I need to go through a woods and a field to reach the desired site.
As we begin the month of September, we are more likely to look forward to the coming autumn than to think of this time as summer. The autumnal equinox, this year on Sept. 22, marks the passage of seasons. The days that continue to lessen in daylight reach the point at that time where we have more hours of darkness than light. This will continue for the next six months. But now in early September the days are more fall-like each day. However, warm temperatures let us know that summer has not completely exited.