Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Seasons in the Valley

A forest of incredible fall colours, slopes falling away to the sparkling river below the cliffs, vultures soaring in the thermals overhead, the Beaver Valley is a beautiful place. A long narrow geological notch in the Niagara Escarpment south of Georgian Bay, the valley starts in the south with waterfalls dropping over the dolomite, and extends to the north widening out into apple orchard country.

For 20 years I've explored the valley, bringing students on field courses, walking the forests, canoeing the river, and enjoying the trails. This is a beautiful, tall straight butternut in one of the many woodlots I know. There is nothing like getting students out to do field projects to introduce you to the landscape.
At the moment it is fall, and the leaves are well into turning colour, though probably not at their peak yet. The ashes turn a range of yellow, deep reds, purples and almost brown, but it's the maples that turn bright red and orange. The valley slopes are carpeted with colour, here and there the dark green of spruce, pine and cedar providing contrast with the deciduous colours. As in this picture though, you see the colours better up close. It's amazing that this most beautiful time of year in the valley is such a brief, ephemeral time.

Winter brings it's own special beauty. Here winters are real winters, with deep snow that lasts for several months, making snowshoes actually useful. And of course both downhill and cross-country skiing are popular. The snowbelt winds bring moisture off Lake Huron and Georgian Bay, dumping heavy fluffy snowfalls that turn the world white. Every branch and twig on the trees is decorated with white icing; the air is crisp and the sounds are muffled except for the moan of the wind. If you're prepared for it, winter is great.
The passing of the seasons provides an endless tableau of change around you. This blog will provide a tiny window on to the 'seasons in the valley'.