Monday, October 1, 2012

In the Late-fall Woods

Young red osier dogwood stem, old alder trunk
Young red osier dogwood stem, old alder trunk
Now that most of our broad-leaved trees have performed as designed, the fall forest demeanor has changed. Gone are the jittery yellow and brown autumn leaves. Now the solidarity of tree trunks stands as a more subdued scene.

The little stream that gurgled between and over their roots all summer has all but disappeared below ground, not to be seen or heard from again until spring. Along its crowded banks, the nutritious young stems of red osier dogwood stand waiting for real snow to set them apart amid the wintry grays.

The little alder trees have also dropped most of their leaves, lest the weight of a wet, early snow snap their half-rotted branches and pull them down. Shrub-like, they live fast and die young, with blue and green lichens climbing solid and hollow trunks alike, blurring the line between living and dieing.

There are reasons that, come winter, a hungry moose will browse the young dogwood stems way back. And next spring, a flighty pair of Chickadees will seek out softened alder wood to excavate for a nest to raise their brood in. Nature is always reasonable in its own ways.