By Greg Lecker
The early bird gets the worm or the experience. Backlit fog – “morning glow” – is our reward for enduring frost advisories this weekend. As I drive through the parking lot towards Three Mile Drive, an overhead V-formation of Canada geese lead my way. Wild turkeys explore the roadside edge. Morning mist on green heron pond draws my attention.
The sun rises above the tree line; and it begins to burn off the ground fog. Mown grass is frosty and the boardwalk is slick with frost and dew.
Tamaracks, those deciduous conifers at the trail edge, are showing partial color. Peak color will arrive soon. Along the southern side of Green Heron Pond, maples are changing color – starting from the top down. Somewhere off in the distance and beyond the direction of Spring Peeper Meadow, gunshots remind one of hunting seasons.
Halloween decorations enliven my walk from Three Mile Drive towards the Grace Dayton Wildflower Garden. Woodland flowers are fading fast. Seeds are forming on zig-zag goldenrod and black cohosh. The scent of decaying leaves marks the change in season. The delicate foliage of red bud and annual impatiens is drooping from plant stems.
Those seeking flower color should head to the prairie. While the grasses and seed heads invite one to search for the many synonyms of rust and brown, purple New England aster and the yellow composites add color, especially along the rock wall and near the Capen display garden. Looking more closely at the yellow flowers, I find both dew and melting ice on blossoms.
Chickadees and sparrows flit around seed heads and plant cover within the prairie. Frost decorates the basal foliage of prairie smoke.
Near the end of my visit, while walking through the Shade Tree Collection, I once again hear the ethereal Native American style flute music I referenced in my November 23, 2015 Nature Notes entry. A man approaches me slowly, carrying a wooden flute. Thus I meet Jim who often visits the Arboretum early Sunday mornings. He plays the instrument suggesting to “let the music lead you to the silence”.
On my return to my vehicle, I see that the morning mist is all but dissipated; and the remaining water smoke curves in slow swirls across the pond surface.
Greg Lecker is a Minnesota Master Naturalist Volunteer.