By Greg Lecker
A flock of seasonally appropriately plump wild turkeys cross the entry road in front of me. In the parking lot, leafless crabapple trees are flush with red fruit. Less seasonally appropriate are wild geranium and roses that are still blooming. It’s not just the rose blooms that are persistent, but the buds are strong and ready to seemingly continue for another week or two. Fresh cut local roses to grace the Thanksgiving table?
Morning glow on grass seed heads of Green Heron Pond beckon me in their direction. The sun’s warmth is abundant in this open landscape. As I walk across the bridge connecting the larger water body to its smaller neighbor, a pair of Mallards take off; and their wings produce a warning whistle. The duckweed that had covered the water is now halfway gone.
At the water’s edge, a wise old willow holds onto its green coat of leaves on this brisk morning. The boardwalk is frosted in few spots. Tamarack trees have shed leaves. The greenness of maidenhair fern in the bog’s lady slipper glade make me wonder whether the season is moving forward or backward.
A red squirrel chatters overhead. On the ground, one gray squirrel whimpers to another as their alternatively tussle and paw at the ground. One of them deftly climbs up brush.
Sparsely scattered at Green Heron Pond but in full bloom at the entry to the woodland garden, a large clump of sweet black-eyed Susan stands defiantly.
Most of the trees are barren now. The golden fruits of ginkgo glow against the blue sky. I step gingerly, avoiding their windfall fruit to snag the right photograph. The odor comes from the butyric acid in the fleshy outer layer. Speaking of fall fragrance, has anyone else noticed the smell of senescence around wetlands? Not all autumn experiences are olfactorily pleasant, yet they trigger memories that are fond upon reflection.
I hear rustling leaves – then find the source. Like a camouflaged combine, a dozen wild turkeys crawl up the incline pecking and clawing through leaf duff in search of acorns or other food.
Three weeks since my last observance, I still find plenty of hairy golden aster still blooming – but not much else now. Common milkweed pods have split their silver lining open to shed silken seed.Returning to the visitor center through the perennial garden, I enjoy the daytime sparkle of Bruce Munro’s Winter Light art installation. Yes, the seasons are advancing, albeit in a start-stop fashion!
Greg Lecker is a Minnesota Master Naturalist Volunteer.