Ghost Ferns and Witchy Woods

The Autumnal Equinox has passed. The weather shows it … nights are cooling. Days are darker and damper even than the past summer. But more importantly the forest shows it.

Mark teases me about autumn beginning on August 1st. I won’t allow that as I’ve always had a summer birthday…in August! But the seasons transition continuously whether we call them by one or another name. Walking the paths between our cabin and the neighbors we see the subtle changes from week to week, until suddenly it is so obvious that a different season is in full swing.

Recently we walked a trail that goes through a dense stand of young spruce and a few birch trees. Most are only 6 to 8 inches in diameter, but the green branches begin high up above us forming a dark dense canopy. There is little undergrowth there save a few mushrooms. Not even the lush green moss wanders through there. It is a dismal place to me. I call it “the Witchy Woods.” This week the yellow leaves are falling from the birches and I can imagine Halloween creatures wandering through there.

This morning I noticed that the ferns in the yard are now pale white. The chlorophyll has drained from the fronds and the ghosts of their former beauty are all that is left. The next to go will be the devil’s club. Their transition through the autumn is more beautiful, though. They have spears of crimson red berries and their leaves take on a glowing yellow before they fade to brown and go dormant through winter. It is a dramatic show. Something I can truly look forward to, even in my least favorite transition time of the year.

Devil’s Club

Soaked in summer sun
Autumn touched leaves and thorns
Golden light returned


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