Ramble On

Monday, October 25, 2010

I got your fall color...

The sun has just passed behind one of our white oaks from where I sit on the brick terrace. For a little while the western light will grow more intense as the angles deepen, and the colors I’ve been enjoying today will show themselves in new perspectives. On this very pleasant Sunday afternoon I think I will put together a couple of the week’s Hawksbill Cabin posts.

Last night we had that beautiful moon, and I sat out on the terrace with a little fire, waiting for the light to come up over Hawksbill Mountain to the east. When it finally did, as my fire’s embers were dying, the moonbeams first struck a couple of the grisly dead cottonwood trees in Beaver Run hollow. They reflect the pale light back spookily, white phantoms haunting the forest. Any hope I might have had of catching sight of a shooting star overhead was chased away by the brightening sky; later, that light was enough to cast full shadows of the trees around the yard.

Then, finding myself awake earlier than usual for a weekend, I rushed to make the pot of coffee and got outside early enough to see the sun come up, retracing the moon’s path of last evening. As that light filtered through the trees, I realized that fall color had come at last to the hollow. I took a walk around the yard, like I might have over the last few years with Gracie and Sofie, and captured some highlight shots of the trees, mainly dogwood and hickory.

Taking advantage of the colors for some tree identification, I picked out the brightest gold leaves, so finally I know specifically where some of my hickories are. Turns out that among these we have a couple of small shagbarks in the back, I am happy to know. The photo on the left below shows the trunk and bark - the photo on the right is a bitternut hickory, I think.

On a whim, I decided to set out for Shenandoah National Park for a short hike to enjoy some foliage, thinking I could get there, and maybe even get back, before too many day-trippers arrived. I chose Blackrock Summit, in the south district, as my destination – there will be a post or two to follow. The foliage didn’t disappoint any of us.

Now, with the sound of acorns and hickory nuts still falling out of the trees, punctuated by the periodic explosion of an apple falling with a loud pop from the tree in our front yard, I’m watching a squirrel set out on the tree limbs around the yard. They can traverse a full three hundred degrees here without ever setting foot on the ground, a fascinating thing to watch.

And at last, the sun is low enough that its filtered light no longer reaches me. There will be a last explosion of golden yellow light reflecting off the ridge line.  

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