Tuesday, September 25, 2012

End of Summer

When a Flowering Dogwood that has presented a healthy green color for several months suddenly turns bright red, it means that summer has come to an end.  This is one of the signals that tells me to finish up my summer tasks and prepare for the more labor intensive winter management season.  If the weather continues dry, I’ll probably begin cedar clearing activities around October 14.  Weather wet enough to delay clearing will mean that we’re getting sufficient rain to raise the well level.  Either option will make me happy.

Autumn skies seem ideally suited to contrails.  I know that aircraft leave contrails at other times of the year, but it’s now that the deep blue of the sky is most often left uncluttered by clouds.  I know that this phenomenon produces no odor detectable by me, but a person burning trash somewhere upwind of me made it seem that I smelled jet exhaust.  I was reminded that no matter how much I wished it to be true, Blue Jay Barrens does not exist independently of the surrounding community.  I’m constantly assaulted by uncontrollable forces that influence the activities on this property.  The best I can do is hope that positive results stem from any outside interaction.

Two frosts have made the prairie grasses begin their transition to reddish gold.  This may be the most attractive period in a tall grass prairie’s life.

The deciduous trees have begun their journey to a final blaze of color before leaf fall.  It’s still too early to tell how the drought will affect color or the speed at which the leaves will drop.  Drought years are notorious for having dull colors and rapid loss of leaves.  It’s not unusual for a string of cloudy days to arrive just before peak leaf color and put a dull finish on everything.  Combine that with a drizzly rain and strong winds and the leaf show can flash past without notice.  Since I really need that rain, I’m betting it will stay dry.

Fog rising out of the Ohio Brush Creek valley is also an annual Autumn event.  Cold air settling over the warm creek water produces some extremely thick fog.  This is the only time of year that you get such an extreme temperature difference between water and air.  This reminds me of my days as a youngster watching insecticide clouds rise above the housetops as the mosquito control truck cruised neighboring roads.  Swirling clouds of water vapor are much more calming than a release of toxic gas, but they are still filling me with an urgent need to complete my summer projects so I can move into a new season.