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Posts Tagged ‘autumn’

What exactly marks the end of a season and the beginning of the next?  The calendar has little to do with it.  Despite the subtle changes that slowly happen over days and weeks, one day these all accumulate and the transformation from summer to autumn is all too evident.  A lone trembling red leaf sends out the message to all:  summer has ended.

Canada geese too announce the message in the marsh with their honking call.  The days are getting shorter.  Even the sky and waters at sunrise seem different, less warm and more ominous of the darker, colder mornings ahead.

As if to compensate, the marsh grasses glow with golden hues.  Do herons dread the colder days ahead as much as we humans do?  Warm and wonderful summers are especially difficult to leave behind.

The end of summer means food will soon be difficult to find for many creatures.  In the marsh, the woods, and even the house, spiders can be  seen diligently spinning their webs in the hopes of capturing the last of the season’s flying insects.

Those who haven’t prepared for the colder days ahead will be singing their sad songs in the days to come.

Please let me out so I can sing in the sunshine one last time.

This post was written in response to Scott Thomas’ End of Summer challenge at Views Infinitum.

All text and photographs copyright Amy-Lynn Bell 2012.

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Canada geese may be just barely visible beneath a cover of marsh mist but their morning talk is unmistakable.  Their communication is not just limited to their signature honk but to a medley of sounds as they wake to another day in another marsh.

According to Ducks Unlimited, Canada geese may be only next to humans in their talkativeness.  Greetings, warnings and contentment are all communicated from the time a gosling is still in its shell.

However, as there are some humans who like to talk more than others, there are probably some geese who are also more talkative than the rest.  I wonder if some geese put their heads underwater to get away from the nagging chatter under the pretext of finding food.

geese talking

Don't even think of flying next to her today!

Considering the amount of effort that goes into planning a trip abroad for a large group, it’s probably the communication skills of geese that allow them to be so successful in their migrations year after year. 

Geese are known to share the responsibilities of leadership, especially in flight.  Also, if a member of the flock is injured, two will stay behind to nurse it back to health, rejoining the larger flock together after it recovers.  Any of these actions would require a great deal of planning and discussion.  No wonder they’re so talkative!

Once the geese have breakfast, make their flight plans and leave, quiet returns to the marsh until the next flock arrives to spend the evening.  

For more information about these beautiful and talkative birds, see Facts on Canada Geese at Ducks Unlimited.

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This weekend’s venue for the Fall Marsh Conference was the beautiful salt marsh in Cole Harbour, Nova Scotia.  The location was ideal, as northern delegates such as the Canada geese were able to stop over to attend the events during their migration south.

This year’s conference theme was The Tides of Change which gave all attendees opportunities to discuss strategies for the future while sharing lessons learned.   A panel presentation facilitated by Dr. Bob Cat, entitled The Coyote Bounty:  What it Means for the Rest of Us drew standing room only crowds, especially from the rodent delegation.

Four workshops were also well attended:  Innovative Uses for Discarded Tim Horton’s Coffee Cups, Coping with Off-leash Dogs, Managing Expectations for Migration Destinations after the Gulf Oil Spill  and Winter Storm Survival Techniques.  Once again this year, the sessions were coordinated by the great blue herons.

A gala evening on Saturday featured music by the Sandpipers.   Though the main vegetarian course was delectable, many of the attendees chose to find alternate fare off-site at the Roadkill Café on Bissett Road.

This year’s keynote speaker was Dr. B. Eagle who provided some keen insights into life at the top of the food chain.  It should be noted that conference organizers greatly appreciated his willingness to refrain from eating any of the delegates until after closing ceremonies.

Thanks to all who worked diligently behind the scenes to make the conference a success!  We hope to see all delegates again next year.

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As autumn takes hold of the Nova Scotia landscape, trees release to the wind the leaves they’ve nourished since springtime.   When frosty days come around, it’s time to let go.

Though we don’t have leaves to lose at this time of year, perhaps we too have things to release in this season of change…   

Letting go of expectations is a good start.  So often we hold such firm expectations of what life should be like at any given stage, how others should be, how we should be, that we fail to see the what isWho would have thought a fungus could have petals or a log could hold a snowflake?

Wild creatures seem to have so much less of a problem than we do leaving possessions behind that no longer serve a purpose.  It’s odd that we’re the beasts who fiercely hang on tooth and nail to clothes or homes we’ve outgrown and objects that would be better put to use by someone else.  Who’ll find comfort from the winter cold in this abandoned flicker nest?

It’s not the daily increase but the daily decrease.  Hack away at the unessential.
~ Bruce Lee

While summer’s abundant blooms shout out “More is more!” autumn’s Michaelmas daisies whisper wisely “Less is more.”    

What about past successes?  Don’t the things we’ve done well in the past tug at us to continue to do more of the same in the future?  Letting go of these might seem ridiculous unless we consider the toll of doing work that does not fulfill or that may no longer be an expression of who we are now in this new season of life.   A tree that foolishly clings to its beautiful, brightly colored leaves may be completely destroyed in a wind or ice storm.

Perhaps this letting go of our concept of self is the most difficult.  Just as it’s easy to define a tree by its showy leaves, it’s all too easy for us as well to define ourselves simply by our outward skills and talents.  We are so much more and still full of surprises, at any age.  Hey, where did those raspberries come from so late in the year? 

When I let go of what I am, I become what I might be.
~ Lao Tzu

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autumn gold

It’s been half a century since gold was mined in Cow Bay.  Gold deposits here are part of the evidence that support the theory that this corner of Nova Scotia was attached to Africa prior to continental drift.  Today, the closest we have to gold is found in November’s plant life along the Salt Marsh Trail. 

These golden grasses and leaves exhude a warmth and richness that were not present earlier this fall.

the marsh in september

The Marsh in September

The goldening of the grasses takes place at the same time that the water turns a steel grey.  

marsh grasss nov

The colours look especially burnished in the morning sunlight.  Even when there is frost on the seaweed, there is a warm glow to the landscape.

frost in autumn

The few leaves remaining on the rosebushes that border the trail are also golden.  They stand in bright contrast to the brilliant red rose hips that were orange earlier in the season.

gold rosebush

Even the November sunrise seems more golden…

november sunrise

Which makes me wonder… why do we usually think of November as such a dull, dreary month?

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tamaracks

The tamaracks that were barely noticeable in the forest all year long now take centre stage. 

small color wheelTheir soft, burnt orange needles provide a bright contrast to the clear blue sky.  Being complementary colours  (set opposite one another on the colour wheel), orange and blue look especially vibrant together in the autumn landscape.

Tamaracks don’t mind wet, boggy soil.  Their Ojibway name, muckigwatig, means ‘swamp tree.’  They thrive in Cow Bay wherever there is little competition for sunshine with other trees.  These deciduous conifers are tolerant of extreme cold.  Their delicate appearance often enhances residential landscapes in northern regions.

tamarack needles in fall

The inner bark of tamaracks is edible and has many medicinal uses among Native Americans, among them, treating burns, wounds, inflammations and headaches.   It’s also a favourite of porcupines. 

Along Bissett Road, which has extensive stands of tamaracks on both sides, it’s no wonder that porcupines are a frequent item on the roadkill café menu.  I’ve crossed paths with them twice in as many weeks, but both times managed to see these slow walkers in time to yield. 

bissett road

It won’t be long before the tamaracks shed their needles for the winter and once again fade into the background of the forest.  But for now, it’s tamarack time.

For more information about tamarack trees, see The Last of Autumn’s Leaves and Needles

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