Oct 19, 2007

Colors on a Fall Walk

Left: Ash tree leaves in the fall

(Toledo, OH) One plans to see brilliant bursts of color from the leaves of trees during the fall season, but on a walk with one of my dogs today I encountered a variety of colors, both expected and unexpected.

These ash leaves were a beautiful blend of yellow, orange, and red hues, though I admit to wondering if their early coloration is a sign that the trees are afflicted with the dreaded ash borer. Still, color is color, and these ash trees might get chopped down in the next few years, so I suppose we should enjoy them while we still can.

Left: Patches of blue sky interspersed with dark clouds

The afternoon sky provided contrasting dark gray and brilliant blue hues today, as a cold front moved in bringing with it some heavy cloud cover. I enjoyed the cool breezes that occasionally rose in intensity to gale-force winds today, and it was refreshing to open the windows of my house to let in the fresh air.

The wind also brings forth a different sound: the creaking and groaning of trees in the strongest gusts. My dogs repeatedly barked at what sounded like the growl of a German shepherd on the driveway, not knowing that heavy branches on our red maple were rubbing together in a menacing-sounding fashion.

Left: Mallard ducks in a Toledo creek

Walking through Toledo's Foxglove Meadow park brought me into the presence of over one hundred Mallard ducks, with their emerald green heads, bright yellow beaks, and carrot-colored feet. My Puggle, Eddie, has taken an increasing interest in matters Mallard, but he was on the shortest of leashes as we approached.

The ducks are part of a large flock of Mallards that has taken up residence in this urban landscape, and who have become dependent upon the largesse of one of my neighbors. She purchases several pounds of corn and other seeds per week to feed these aquatic birds.

Left: Wild grapes in a city park

No fall trip to Foxglove Meadow would be complete without sampling some of the wild grapes that grow on the western edge of the park. While they contain more seeds than fruity flesh, I find it hard to resist eating a few of the products of the Vitis labrusca vine. How can one resist the frosty midnight blue of a fresh grape, with its waxy skin glimmering in the intermittent sunshine?

It is apparent that the nearby city-dwelling birds have also been feasting on these grapes, as the ground is littered with associated detritus. I suspect that the windshields of nearby cars and trucks are also colorful, though I did not follow up on this hunch.

Left: Solitary peach-colored rose

The most beautiful colors I encountered, though, were found on a late-blooming rose in the front yard of one of my neighbors as I walked home. Surfing on the passing gusts of wind, this lone blossom struggled to continue its broadcast of visual aesthetics on a fall afternoon.

Depending on the availability of sunlight, this rose exhibited a variety of hues, ranging from salmon to peach to tangerine in color. I paused briefly to smell what might be the last rose of the summer, savoring the olfactorial delights until my dog reminded me of our true mission, which involves sniffing rocks for the recent presence of other dogs.

Another thirty minutes and two miles later, we returned home, richer for the experience and not missing for a moment the spent time.


Valerie said...

Gorgeous photos, Mike! If I wasn't stuck in the house doing homework on my one day off this week, I'd take a walk myself.

My beloved and very much missed ash tree never looked that pretty in the fall.

historymike said...

Thanks, Val. I find that I HAVE to walk, or I go batty. Also, my dogs insist upon walks.