Hanging On

To say the colors have been fantastic this fall is an understatement. Maybe they are just as spectacular as last year’s display, but I don’t remember. Or maybe it’s that the leaves turned at a later date than in recent history and the anticipation was rewarded by the brilliance.

morning view

All I know is that I can’t get enough.

Route 93 mtn view

Route 93 2

As I drove toward Lovell this morning, a break in the treeline beside the road forced me to back up and jump out of the truck. I recalled another October when the foliage caught my attention–I can’t believe I remember this, but it was either 1974 or ’75 when I often traveled the back roads with my high school cohorts–Carissa and Sarah. I only hope I remember this fall as vividly as that one has always stood out in my mind.

purple aster

It felt like rain when a couple of friends and I walked along the short trail at the GLLT’s John A. Segur Wildlife Refuge on New Road this morning. We didn’t get far because there were so many wildflowers to view, some still in bloom and others gone to seed. Like so many trails, this is an old logging road. It would be so easy to dismiss it as an ugly tangle of shrubs and weeds. But it’s hardly that. Gray and paper birch grace the border of the road, mixed with evergreens and a few red maples.

gall of the earth flower 2

But the flowers really caught our attention today. One Gall of the Earth displays its nodding head.

sundew leaves dying back

The round-leaf sundew is beginning to die back.

silverod

It seemed like in most cases only one plant of the species still had flowers, like this silverrod, our only white goldenrod.

Pearly everlasting

Pearly everlasting,

steeplebush

steeplebush and

aster seeds 2

asters are letting go.

witch hazel flowering

Meanwhile, the witch hazel is in full bloom.

wh flower and pod

Apparently, its ribbony yellow flowers bloom late in order to take advantage of pollinators at a time when everything else has finished blossoming.

baby woodfrog

We didn’t have a lot of time to spend at the property, but this little guy caught our attention–a young wood frog. He’ll need to find his way under the leaf litter soon.

Route 93

On the way home, another photo call.

Mount Washington

And later in the day, some work behind me, I stepped out the door again. It’s a compulsion a this point; a strong desire to catch every shade of yellow, orange, red and purple before it’s too late. I haven’t turned north on the snowmobile trail under the power line in a while, so today I did.

Mansion Road

My journey took me down a logging road that has become a super highway in the last two years. I think the operation is finally over.

log landing 1

The landing and beyond have been my destination for 23 years. I’ve watched the succession play out in this space. And now it will happen again. I have to look at it as a lesson–watching the species gradually take over this muddy lot. The land was probably last logged about thirty years ago, so I met it in its early stages. Now I will get to see it transform from the get go. And I have to say, it’s one of the cleanest log landings I’ve ever encountered.

logging road

Considering how wet it is in these woods, I’m impressed with the forester’s work.

ferns filling in

Ferns already grow in roads created a year ago.

grass filling in logging roads

Grass fills in others.

mud

But mud is predominate and I love mud.

bobcat tracks 1bobcat 2

Bobcat tracks were everywhere. It’s been my understanding that bobcats don’t travel trails like coyotes and foxes, but instead cross over them in a corridor that is about 40 feet wide. My observance, however, is that this isn’t always the case. Heck, I’d follow the easier trail as well. I did today. I started to return home via one of the trails I use when on snowshoes, but because this is a wet countryside, the slash left by previous loggers and the most current one makes that trail almost impassable until the snow flies (which may be soon–at least for a few flakes).

bobcat 3bc pattern

I’m curious about the number of tracks. Bobcats are solitary except during breeding season in February-March. Are these youngsters? Do they travel together? Or is this an individual passing through repeatedly?

bc and deer-opposite

Deer are among a bobcat’s prey and thus part of the reason this is such fertile hunting grounds. I love the view of both passing through this space in opposite directions. And the turn of the bobcat’s toe nails, which show clearly in the mud even though they are able to retract them. The deer also seemed to have slid into a turn. Though you can’t see my boot prints here, I love that the three of us passed this way side-by-side, at different moments. I looked for them, but am sure they were much more astute about knowing my whereabouts.

leaves in puddle

Puddles along the way were filled with fallen leaves

leaves in puddle & reflection

and reflections of trees to which they once clung.

old squirrel drey

Back on our land, I found an old squirrel drey that had fallen from quite high in a tree.

red maple leaf scar

And noted the red maple twigs–new buds already offering hope for next year, leaves still hanging on, and a bright green leaf scar from one that fell off recently.

fewer leaves

At the end of the day the leaf pile grows. I guess we can only hang on to the old for so long.

12 thoughts on “Hanging On

  1. You crack me up, Db. And you need to check out the trail system. A bit wet in spots, but still worth walking. Not the same as when we used to lift the snow off the trees, but the potential is there.

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  2. Thanks for letting me enjoy autumn with you……..wish I could see autumn from atop our lumber road! 🍁

    Faith sent from my Ipad

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    1. Hmmmm, sounds like I need to head over there. Will try. Coleading a hike this morning. Breezy yesterday, so lot of leaves came down and raining right now, but that’s supposed to end soon. Too dark to see what’s left out there at the moment.

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  3. Wow. You couldn’t have asked for a better surface for your bobcat tracks. I am also so glad that the logging is over and that they did a decent job of cleanup.

    I, too, think the colors have been much more intense this year. Whatever the reason, I’ll take it!

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  4. That was very enjoyable Leigh…and in your backyard…that’s what I am looking forward to in sunny So. Fla..if I can’t feel it, I can at least see it!!!!

    How many times must the cannonballs fly before they’re forever banned? Bob Dylan

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  5. Thanks again, Leigh! I came over from Topsham with a couple of friends on Thurs—THE perfect day! Destination: Pietree Orchard. Several ‘OMG, pull over, photo!’ moments. They were blown away, never having been there before. And we went via back roads—always the best!

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