By Greg Lecker
The daybreak illuminated full moon teases me like a pale white cameo showcased atop a Tiffany’s boutique box. On my Saturday morning drive to the Arboretum, the roadways zig west and zag south. The moon plays peek-a-bo0 with my gaze as the sky deepens in blue. The sky deepens in hue.
Over this weekend, the season officially changes from summer to fall. From a far off western lake come muffled shotgun blasts. Is this evidence of today being the first day of waterfowl hunting season?
Moving in the sugar bush is a flock of nine turkeys of various sizes and ages. Hints of steel gray and red adorn each head. On some, fuzzy feathers remain. On all, an attractive brown-gray pattern has developed on their wings.
In the Japanese garden, wings of a different sort capture my attention. The uppermost drooping leaves of Winged Euonymus – Burning Bush – have just begun changing color. Granted, the “wings” of the plant’s name usually refer to the thin side protrusions of the larger branches. But today, to me, the hanging leaves resemble wings.
The berries of Highbush Cranberry are brilliant red. Foliage is green at the Home Landscape Garden. However, in landscapes outside the Arboretum this week, I’ve found cranberry foliage that matches the berries in color.
At the Sensory Garden parking lot, an Autumn Blaze Red maple (Acer x Freemanii, Jeffersred) is living up to its reputation. Along the path leading into the Grace Dayton Wildflower Garden, American Bittersweet fruits are orange, but have not yet split open to reveal their red hearts. Some False Solomon’s Seal berries have completely ripened to red, while others are light pink with red speckles.
Though little foliage color change is visible within the Shade Tree Collection, the ripening fruit of the Kobus Magnolia (Magnolia Kobus, “Wada’s Memory”) is positively tropical. On this fruit poses a skimmer – a male Meadowhawk Dragonfly (Sympetrum species). It could be a Ruby or Autumn Meadowhawk or another of the many species of these dragonflies that are common in midsummer or early autumn.
I walk through the woodland to return to my vehicle. Like a wind-up toy, a chipmunk flicks its tail and lower jaw with each tweeting chip. Deep in the shade it appears to be twilight; while through the few openings in the canopy are patches of crisp clear blue sky.
Greg Lecker is a Minnesota Master Naturalist Volunteer.