Wednesday, December 5, 2012

An Early Autumn

Autumn is a short season here, and, in a place already rich in light and temperature dependent “now or never” opportunities, fall welcomes seasonal activities that we enjoy only this time of year.

View of home from the kayak
This summer gave clues that winter might come early, and indeed it did. By mid-August, the last fire weed flowers bloomed. That final flowering is our “old wife's tale” warning that winter is 6 weeks away and autumn is upon us. The 6 foot grasses and fireweed die back, revealing the red, yellow, and brown leaves of shorter ferns, cranberry bushes, and devil's club. The berries of the ash, elderberry, and cranberry bushes start orange and turn red and, in some cases, attain a gorgeous burgundy. The birch and aspen trees turn yellow, reflected along the lake edge, reminding me of many a Japanese screen. Over time, they shed their starry seeds and heart shaped leaves along the brown woodland paths, as though ready for a blushing bride to walk upon them. On a short shopping flight to Anchorage in late August, I saw a beautiful sight: miles and miles of yellow birch and aspen, looking, from the 500 ft vantage point of a de Havilland Beaver, like bouquets of giant daffodils as far as the eye could see.