Nature Notes

Looking Long Range

By Boak Wiesner

A lot has changed since I was last here. The woods are now mostly brown, and the leaves are down, but here and there splashes of color grab my eye. The gray day seems to mute the sounds around me. The quiet air is good for where I’m at as I think the predictions about this coming fall and winter, and I realize that taking some photos from a distance could be an analogy, for then that what comes into my camera’s eye, and my eye, happened longer ago than those images right in front of me. I wonder why the Weeping Willow is still so green, while the Aspens are yellow, while still the Red Oaks have mostly lost all their leaves? Something in that “dark laboratory we call the soil”?

There are many oscillating cycles that contribute to the overall climate of regions of the Earth, the main one being the El Niño-Southern Oscillation, which is in a neutral pattern right now. So our winter is expected to be normal.

A little Red Squirrel scampers across the path. Busy collecting then burying nuts and seeds, he seems to hardly mind my presence at all. On the steep hill to my right are a couple of Gray Squirrels thrashing through the sere leaves.

Here and there are bursts of color, especially prominent against the background of dull brown. The leaves of some False Rue Anemone almost glow in comparison to the oak leaves.

dsc_0027Overhead there’s the nest of Bald-faced Hornets. They chew up wood fibers which mix with chemicals and enzymes then regurgitate the mixture out as the familiar paper of the nest. It was made to house their larvae n comb made or paper rather than wax.

dsc_0034Some Black-capped Chickadees are busy eating seeds of various plants in the bog. Their bustling brings a smile to my face on an otherwise cold and gray day.

dsc_0039Boak Wiesner is a Minnesota Naturalist Volunteer

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