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By Mary Beth Pottratz
Wide magenta oaks and orange-gold sugar maples tower above me. Crisp leaves skitter across the ground and crunch beneath my feet.
Bunches of false hairy goldenasters light up like mini-suns, replacing the sunflowers and goldenrods that are now past their prime. Brilliant yellows, crimsons, russets and more glow despite the dry weather and today’s dusty breezes. And a good soaking tonight should really perk things up.
Sturdy yet graceful blades of Indian grass reach for the sky, tips leaning under the weight of seeds. Unaffected by lack of moisture, all the grasses stand tall and wave in the breeze. Dwarf honeysuckle shrubs form yard-tall mounds of bronzed maroon.
Fluffy seedheads glow in the late afternoon haze. Leaves drift sideways in the wind. A song sparrow twills, “Maids, maids, maids put on your tea kettle -ettle -ettle” from the wetland. Cars and bikers crawl along Three-Mile Drive to take in the views. Walkers have a designated one-way path to peruse.
Bumblebees work fast to cull the last sips of nectar from deep purple silky asters. The more delicate smooth blue asters have pale blue-lavender petals. Their golden centers have aged to reddish-purple. Pollinators work hard to glean any bit of nectar from them.
The magnificent sugar maple that Prince, as rumor has it, once posed beneath is a study of gold, orange, green and russet. I pause as a wild turkey crosses the path ahead of me. Loud caws startle me as crows find something new to carouse about.
Pagoda dogwood branches display lipstick shades of pink. They are surrounded by yellow maple leaves and hemmed with deep green shrubs.
There is still time to stand under a brilliant gold tree and soak up its rays as they reflect the sun.
Mary Beth Pottratz is a Minnesota Master Naturalist Volunteer. More information about the Master Naturalist Volunteer program is available at www.minnesotamasternaturalist.org.