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CREDIT: Candia Peterson

The End of Autumn by Candia Peterson

Landscape Group Newsletter, January 2023

The End of Autumn by Candia Peterson

Although the Catskill Mountains of New York don’t really count as New England, the “Fall” colours are no less spectacular given the right mix of heat and rainfall throughout the summer.  However, I found myself on my travels away from the area around the time of “leaf peaking” magnificence (lots of leaf peaking festivals and fairs at this time of year) and by the time I got back to base in mid-October, all that was left were the last vestiges of glory in isolated pockets.  These splashes of colour however, stood out spectacularly against what was once more – and for the duration of winter – the vast expanses of grey that are the dense forests of Oak, Birch and Maple that make up the majority of our tree cover.

 

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As regular readers of this letter will know, the West Branch of the Delaware River runs through the village.  My favourite Sycamore tree is about a mile from my house.  It sits on the far bank of the river but conveniently in full view from a little layby on the main road out of town.  This is the time of year when it’s at it best.  In summer, its stark white branches get lost in its foliage and the greenery around it is too much.  In full-on winter, it gets lost in the snow, but is this point of the autumn (and early spring when it is the last of the surrounding trees to come into leaf) at which you can really enjoy it with remnants of gold around it and a little bit of hoar frost in the early mornings never hurts the scene.

And is also a lovely time to pick up the late autumn textures with steam rising and the first flecks of ice starting to appear on the surface of the water, all brightly lit by the early morning sun.  This was taken from the same layby as the Sycamore but looking upriver to the Northeast.  By Christmas – normally – the river will be frozen solid and will remain so for most of the winter until late March or April.

Driving out of town on a beautiful sunny day, I passed a local office building (county welfare services as it happens).  They have a very smart and well-maintained lawned area to the front and at the sight of three trees in their final flush of bright orange and the fallen leaves on the grass not yet withered and dried was quite spectacular.

Elsewhere there are little pockets of colour to be found at ground level and I enjoyed this little row of rushes and hedgerows with its backdrop of bare branches reflected in a small watering hole on a local farm.

And the farmland itself is in transition.  The corn has been harvested but the stalks not yet cut back.  In no time, this view will be of sticks on the bare earth and the tiny amount of colour in the trees will be gone for another year.

All in all, autumn is a wonderful season here, the days are generally very bright and getting cold, the colours – at their peak – are a wonder to behold but, as I hope I’ve shown, even when most of the colour has gone, the impact of that left behind is almost more intense giving a last farewell to life before the long days of winter.  

As I write in early December, we’ve had several frosts and a bit of snow – it is grey, dark and generally pretty miserable though this year is, so far, unseasonably warm.  The local folk are divided between those who think we’re in for a mild winter and those who think we’re about to get hammered.  It all comes down – obviously – to the woolly bear caterpillar.  The wider the orange stripe on its back, the milder the winter.  I haven’t seen one yet this year but last year they had no orange at all on their black backs and the winter was beyond brutal.  Fingers firmly crossed!

Although the Catskill Mountains of New York don’t really count as New England, the “Fall” colours are no less spectacular given the right mix of heat and rainfall throughout the summer.  However, I found myself on my travels away from the area around the time of “leaf peaking” magnificence (lots of leaf peaking festivals and fairs at this time of year) and by the time I got back to base in mid-October, all that was left were the last vestiges of glory in isolated pockets.  These splashes of colour however, stood out spectacularly against what was once more – and for the duration of winter – the vast expanses of grey that are the dense forests of Oak, Birch and Maple that make up the majority of our tree cover.

All Images © Candia Peterson except the last two taken from the Internet and uncredited

 

 

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