Tag Archives: fall colours

A Salad for the Eyes!

AUTUMN LEAVES

Reid Dickie

For the eighth or ninth time this summer I took the leisurely drive home from Dauphin yesterday through Riding Mountain National Park. The day was partly cloudy. The park is spectacular this week with autumn painting the landscape with a glorious panorama of colours. Around every bend a new flourish of yellow and scarlet intertwines with subtle variations of orange, brown and red against a palette of greens.  It’s a salad for the eyes!

I always enjoy the drive through the park although in a few places the highway makes it seem like all four tires are going flat. The speed limit of 80 kph is appropriate and allows for sudden stops to view wildlife along the way. Trucks with three or more axles are not allowed to drive through the park.

The road now bypasses what was colloquially called “soapstone hill” – a short section on a steep hill near the north entrance. For decades the highway over the soapstone was unpaveable because the asphalt slid down over the slippery stone. Next to the bypass, there is now a new parking and viewing area that affords a gorgeous vista of the old lake bed below and Dauphin beyond.

This is the weekend for a day trip through the park for a full measure of Manitoba’s fall colours.

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Filed under BEAUTY, Day Tripping, Earth Phenomena, Natural Places, Parks

Orion has returned to hunt in the northern skies.

Reid Dickie

I’ve covered lots of Manitoba ground over the last ten days and the signs of change are everywhere, not just in the fields where the harvest progresses apace sending plumes of chaff and dust into the air. The red maples flame as loud as our flag. Always the leaders in changing colour, cottonwoods burn yellow in the dry dusty sun of late summer. Greens start to fade as russet and pumpkin shades emerge. An especially good summer for poison ivy, now its scarlet and orange leaves form bright carpets in the understory of shallow forests and along the ditches of the TCH. This year mountain ash are laden with large clusters of hot red berries awaiting the first frosts to sweeten up for the jays and waxwings.

Murmurations of blackbirds weave and dive across the highway coordinating their aerial sonar for the long flight ahead. Tiny flocks of LGBs (little grey birds, thank you Ed Abbey) polka along with the Tragically Hip on the mighty Avenger’s CD player. Vs of geese broadcast their lonesome message across the land. Red-tailed hawks populate telephone poles keen-eyed for their next meal, an easier feat now those nice farmers have cut down all the long crops making the yummy wee critters more vulnerable.

Generally critters get more mobile at this time of year in anticipation of winter. They plan ahead like the garter snakes who are now heading toward the nearest karst that’ll take them down below the frost line where they can overwinter thus many flattened snakes on the highways. Night critters like skunks, raccoons, porcupines and badgers populate the shoulders in larger numbers now than during the hot weather. Ravens tug at the carcasses. Nature bats last.

I caught this cluster of wild bees and several of their honeycombs over the entrance to Zoria Hall, a popular dance hall now and ago. There was honey dripping down the wall! It was a cool windy day so the bees were inactive.

 

In the cemetery next to the Zoria church was this beautiful white angel turning black with time.

Still driving around…

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Filed under Ancient Wisdom, BEAUTY, Blog Life, Critters, Natural Places, Parks, PRAIRIES, shaman, Spirit

Autumn

Reid Dickie

 

This is the moon of wayward intermingling. An errant autumn wind blows a regiment of brittle leaves toward me, past me, through me. Each tree is releasing its billions of spent sentinels, this oak, that elm, this maple, that cottonwood, sending away once-securely-held flags to dance on the chaos of the wind.

Orion rises tonight. The hunter returns to his prairie.

Mixed with the brown rustle of the leaves and occasional goose music from high above is the changing voice of the trees. No longer aflutter, agiggle with leaves, now more wind sieves, branches straining out the harmonics to leave skeletons of dark notes hung on stark staffs.

Gone are the chlorophyll days, the thrill of songbirds, the ache of heat and harvest. Now only the spin and sputter of the leaves, crunchy as cereal, a rheologist’s reverie. When trees decide to forfeit their prize leaves, there is no consensus. Each tree decides which breeze will receive its reward. Perhaps it waits for that moment of pure stillness, utter windlessness, and, through sheer force of will, releases a single yellow acrobat that carelessly, delicately, unashamedly glides and chutes to the earth. Each leaf that lands sends a small signal to the sipping roots of the tree beneath.

Some trees prolong the gilded state until their full-sun radiance receives gratitude sufficient to warrant the golden release. In the tickle of two or three small breezes, the tree abandons its saffron robe to stand naked, posing against the blue-grey sky. Lungless now, breathless too, it awaits winter, the snow.

A small miracle: a squirrel, impossibly, finds an unshelled peanut among the welter of leaves. Frozen in suspicious surprise for a moment, the squirrel accepts the miracle, integrates the peanut into its intent and carries off its living treasure to be re-hidden, forgotten until, in the dozy squirm of a warm winter day, the squirrel remembers the exact location of the nut, dreams it onto a map that will unfurl once spring takes off the snow. Hunger will tweak this unfurling. The shell will split, nourishment gained, the dreaming proceeds.

A bouquet of swirling yellow erupts on a gravel road, tracing something indecipherable on the ground then gone. A settling of leaves, a stilled rustle. Clouds of leaves, brittle as butterflies, none the colour of blueberries, sail across the horizon. Stiff winds chase each leaf from the tree and pursue it at an unpredictable pace over unknown ground landing a mile away or further.

Though sharp, serrated, dry and propelled by anxious autumn winds, leaves don’t shear off our heads or lacerate bare skin. Buds and twigs, even playful bits of bark borne on an earnest breeze won’t damage our flesh. Large branches fracture bone; entire falling trees crush us to death regularly. Usually, though, trees do not kill us. They breathe with us, for us. If they die, we die.

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Filed under Earth Phenomena, Natural Places