While We Weren’t Looking

It was little more than a hunch, but I sensed a change. The wind had been brisk, the temperature change sharp, and the nights cool enough to require jackets. It might have happened, I thought.

And so it had. From refuges to farms, across windbreaks and fencelines, color had come: wild, exuberant, and as glorious as in any remembered autumn.

Unfortunately, the color was gracing the despised and denigrated, cursed and criticized abomination known as the Chinese tallow tree. As ubiquitous an invasive as can be found, it creeps across prairies and sneaks toward woodlands,  displacing native grasses and forbs as it goes.

Still. For a very few days in autumn, its colors — yellow and taupe, pumpkin-rich orange, burgundy, the almost unearthly saturated red shown above — arrive to gladden the heart. Today, the weekend’s color surely is gone, thanks to the winds of our first strong cold front. But I was there to see it and, seeing it, to remember Emily Dickinson’s own paean to the colors of autumn.

The name of it is “Autumn”
The hue of it is Blood
An Artery upon the Hill
A Vein along the Road
Great Globules in the Alleys
And Oh, the Shower of Stain
When Winds upset the Basin
And spill the Scarlet Rain
It sprinkles Bonnets far below
It gathers ruddy Pools
Then eddies like a Rose away
Upon Vermilion Wheels

 

Comments always are welcome.

A Season For Sharing

 

As days grow shorter and plants increasingly transform their flowers into seed, it’s quite common to find groups of insects drawn to the flowers that remain.

Here, skippers have sought out the riches of a late-October Kansas thistle; at one point, seven skippers sipped at this single, still-substantial bloom.

 

Comments always are welcome.

Lingering Lavender

Winged loosestrife (Lythrum alatum) ~ Brazoria Wildlife Refuge

Australian blogging friend eremophila recently coined the phrase ‘Sprummer Downunder’ — her way of acknowledging that spring and summer sometimes can be hard to separate from one another.

Seasons never are as clear-cut as the human invention known as daylight saving time. As the northern hemisphere moves toward winter, I responded to her ‘Sprummer’ with ‘Sumtumn,’ my own invented word for the mixing of summer and autumn.

Silverleaf nightshade (Solanum elaeagnifolium) ~ Galveston Island

Many of our summer flowers do persist into fall, and even into winter. I’ve found asters of various sorts blooming in January after three days of freezing temperatures. Each of the native flowers shown here continues to flourish despite shortening days and colder temperatures, and while the loosestrife surely will fade soon, I expect to see the asters and nightshade for many more weeks.

Perennial saltmarsh aster (Symphyotrichum tenuifolium) ~ Seabrook, Texas

Combined with the bright yellows and golds of sunflowers and goldenrod, autumn’s lavenders and purples — berries as well as flowers — are as much a sign of the season as falling leaves. Best of all, they’re willing to stay with us for a while.

 

Comments always are welcome.