By Greg Lecker
“Stay gold”- Johnny’s dying words to Ponyboy Curtis, The Outsiders
I’m reminded of these words on my recent visit to the Arboretum and to Minnesota’s North Shore. This is my admonition to Mother Nature’s autumn colors palette. This too short time of foliage brilliance is my favorite!
This year’s prolonged and late peak to autumn colors is a fitting end bookmark to a glorious growing and summer for Minnesota. Low humidity warm temperatures, largely clear skies, adequate rainfall.
I arrive at Grace Dayton woodland garden. I am startled by not one but two herds of wild turkeys. One group moves silently in waves across a grassy hill. The other group noisily scampered and trampled through the leafy floor of the woodland. Two turkeys decided to a light on the fence post.
Though the display gardens remain colorful, little blooms in the native landscape – save for the fall Asters which are thick and purple.
I walk to the Bennett Johnson Prairie. Along the roadway, a stopped car reminds me to slow down. Lucky for me – for I find another visitor on Rigid Goldenrod. Now in its winter plumage, an American Goldfinch repeatedly dunks its head amidst the full seed heads – oblivious to me. Flying seeds pause on its head and wing.
In the Capen Display Garden, the Prairie Dock flower stems have been trimmed; but the “rough as sandpaper” leaves remain – brown, yellow and green.
Around the Arboretum, plenty of birds call: a mallard and Canada geese, a pileated woodpecker that avoids capture by camera, and even a Barred Owl. It’s “who cooks for you, who cooks for you all” call is repeated up north at my Lake Agnes camp site. There, two Barred Owls called to one another, their calls echoing across the still lake.
A bumblebee alighting amidst yellow flowers provides closing thoughts.
“Nothing Gold Can Stay” is a poem by Robert Frost, written in 1923. All good things must come to an end.
Greg Lecker is a Minnesota Master Naturalist Volunteer.