Archives for posts with tag: Color Season

Yesterday’s rain rising as early morning steam

Yesterday we had a storm. Autumn winds and pelting rain whipped the trees, stripping out some of the yellows and high reds. We are on the downside of peak color.

The polar vortex is weak this year, its perimeter winds at a mere 60 miles per hour. That’s barely enough to keep the cold artic air from spilling out across the landscape. With this weak spin, we can expect repeated cold spells this winter–one coming as early as later this week. So I’m enjoying the last of the color now.

I try to capture it in photos–but the ridge across the valley is too vast for me to get a handle on it. The pictures do not show the beauty and range that you get with the eye. So I’ll try with these closer shots.

Maybe intimate is the way to seize the moment of a turning autumn. Soon it’ll be snow, and an entirely different landscape and rhythm.

Out our north window.

There is such a thing as being too good looking for your own good. We live in an area that is a destination location. Near Traverse City, and just a hop-skip and jump from the Sleeping Bear Dunes, this area is a tourist attraction–even more so in the past twenty years, having taken a page from California’s book of wine country. Travellers can enjoy Lake Michigan’s dunes, forests and trails and follow-up with tasting tours and award-winning wines, ciders and micro-brewery offerings. We’re homebodies, and it’s all a little precious for our tastes. But we do enjoy the area’s beauty.

This summer, Rick noticed an increase in air traffic. There is a local flight school that does training over us–much to our annoyance, and we do see Coast Guard helicopters doing rescue work–all too often. It’s one of the hazards of being a popular destination with boating as a side feature. But Rick kept mentioning how frequent and regular the choppers were making their way over our property. I confess, I ignored it.

But then, one day, he pointed to the sky and said, “Right on schedule.” I looked up, and noted that it was not a Coast Guard chopper. So what was it? Rick headed for the internet. Sure enough, new this year, there are helicopter tours! Their various routes are posted on their web site, and we are directly on several of the tour paths. To get the best views, they hug the edge of the valley, flying at low levels over our hills. Ugh!

Right now it’s color season–the forests, though not yet at peak, are blazing. It’s gorgeous. And, based on the intrusion frequency, very popular. Autumn is my favorite season, but I won’t miss it when the flight season wanes. It’s enough to make you a bit squeamish, to have gawkers overhead as we work the gardens or split wood. I feel like rustic peasants, dotted through the landscape as an added bit of interest for the privileged folk. Sheesh.


We went away for a few days. Not like a big vacation or anything, just a quick trip up to my mum’s in the far north. It was beautiful, with color just getting underway. While we were there, the weather forecast warned of a hard freeze. I asked if there was anything in her garden that she wanted to bring in, or cover.

No, she was really ready. I know my sister and brother-in-law next-door were out in their garden, picking the last of the tomatoes, green beans, and anything else left from the season. I knew that, back at home, there was a frost warning, but I wasn’t worried. We’ve been gardening in Cedar for a number of years, and we’re pretty accustomed to our glide path into autumn. Usually, I can harvest the last dribs and drabs through the end of October. Had I been home, I might have thrown row covers over things, just to be sure. But I wasn’t worried.

Even up in Copper Harbor, the warning appeared to be a bit overblown. I’m not sure that their final harvest efforts were necessary. Morning came and, though it was nippy, their garden fared pretty well. Perhaps it was colder, inland. But the little town of Copper Harbor is on Lake Superior, and the summer’s warm water moderates temperatures in town.

Imagine my surprise then, when I got home. A hard freeze had taken out most everything! The basil looks burned black!. The tomatoes, lush and green on our departure, are dried and brown. The biggest shock was my late pototoes–frozen to mush above ground. I’ll have to harvest as “new potatoes.” They’ll be small–since I planted them late in the season. Only the beets and carrots fared well. They will actually have improved, since some vegetables do even better–sweeter for having been frost-kissed.


And now, with the damage done, the temperatures have come back up. The days are lovely, warm and still. It’s hazy. The light, and the sun, have a red-filtered cast, the results of California fires, thousands of miles away. Otherwise, it seems like a normal early autumn. I have salvage work to do, and then an earlier than normal winter prep. Strange times, I tell you. Strange times. (Note, the title of this post has changed. It took me months to realize that this was an Equinox event–not a Solstice Freeze.)


Just Past Peak.

A.V. Walters–


With color so late this year, everyone was trying to pinpoint exactly when we’d experience “peak color.” Folks want to snap a picture at the exact epitome of the season, as if you could really capture the experience in a photo. I’m guilty of that, too. I think peak was last Saturday. I missed it. Saturday was a little grey, so I decided to wait a day to capture some sunshine in the photo. That night, the wind picked up—stripping vulnerable leaves from their moorings and removing swaths of color from the landscape. The next morning, sun came out, briefly, revealing an entirely different palette from the day before.

I snapped a few pics, even knowing that I’d called it wrong. Later in the day, the winds howled, and the rain kicked in–the double-whammy of color loss. Yesterday’s magnificent landscape was skittering across the road in the wind and rain. Now, near a week later, frosts have hit and we’re talking about the start of winter instead of the peak of fall.

It’s not as easy to call the color as it was when I was a kid. I think that climate change is delivering us mild autumn temperatures, slowing the turn of the season. Instead of one blast of outrageous display, the trees start their transition, and lose leaves along the way, through an extended autumn. A local headline read, “Color Season Takes its Own Sweet Time.” Not that it’s not beautiful—it’s just not as intense.


Rick and I take a moment, everyday, to observe the changes. That may be the best anyway. Too often in our busy lives, we forget to take a moment to appreciate the beauty around us. It’s a shame, because “everyday beauty” is considerable salve to the challenges of everyday life. So what if it’s a little past peak? Come to think of it, so am I.