Thursday, October 31, 2013

The Seasons Change

It's the end of October tonight, and the biggest seasonal change of the year is here.  The long spring/summer/fall season seems to end quickly, with numerous fairly abrupt changes to routine and things to be done.  One thing that symbolizes the change are sunrises, for in late October we're often up before the very late-rising sun, and I sometimes get photos of the sun rising over the trees. 

These are the darkest mornings of the year, noticeably so for me.  Later in the winter, after we've had a chance to catch up to standard time, the sun will rise late as well, but by then there's usually snow on the ground, which makes the overnight hours especially if there's a moon, remarkably bright.  But in late October there's no way around it; it's just dark.

So in the meantime, all the outdoor things from deckchairs to the garden hose are packed away.  The garlic was planted 2 or 3 weeks ago, and the garden is ready to sleep.  The mower deck has been switched for the snowblower on the big lawnmower, and the snow tires dug out to be put on the vehicles.  The garage has been cleared out enough that we can get at least one car inside during the snowstorms!

But there are changes to routine too.  As the sun moves south it shines in a different window and I have to sit in a different chair for my morning coffee to avoid the glare.  After the time changes Saturday night, the dog will have to be walked before dinner if you're to avoid the dark roads.  And of course it's winter coat, gloves and toque time, depending on the actual temperature. 

And suddenly, after months of growing plants and birds singing, the trees are bare, and we are reduced to the few birds that stay for the winter - chickadees, blue jays, mourning doves, goldfinch, nuthatches and crows.  Over the course of the entire year, no set of changes seems more complete and sudden than the seasonal change at the end of October.

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Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Last Leaves

Before the leaves disappear completely around here, I'll share a few of my favourite shots from this fall.  These are from 2 weeks ago; the trees around here are 99.8% bare now, and it's looking like mid-November.  But that means you can see other things in the woods better than before.  For a short few weeks until the snow really flies, the forest floor is open like a book.

Our neighbour has a few red oak trees, and they're the ones that seem to hold on to their leaves the longest.

But most of the colourful trees in the neighbourhood are sugar maples, entirely orange and yellow this year rather than red.

This is one of the best shots I think really shows the leaves glowing in the morning sun.

But I liked something about this maple branch viewed from below too; just catches my eye somehow.

This was probably the brightest tree in the neighbourhood, though it only lasted this bright for a day or two.

And in the garden, it's the hostas turning yellow that mark the end of fall.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Finally, a Heavy Frost

The temperature dropped to minus 8 (Celsius) last night, and we woke to a heavy frost.  The grass was white, and frost crystals rimmed all the dying plants in the garden.  It vanished fast in the sun, but I got a few pictures before it disappeared.

 The lawn looked white toward the rising sun.

 The boxwood on the edge of the garden were rimmed in frost.

 This ninebark leaf was totally covered in frost crystals.

 And this raspberry, glowing red in the morning sun.

 A patch of unmowed grass in the shade.

 Seed heads of the pink coneflowers.

 A 7 foot tall mullein that hid in a back corner of the garden.

One of my favourite fuzzy leaves.

 And yes, we do have a little bit of last week's 4" snowfall still left, in spots where it's mostly shaded.

We have a steep roof and the snow cascades off it fast, landing with a whoosh and a thump.  But it consolidates, as does the snow in a real avalanche, becoming more like ice than snow.  Right across in front of our front door, I'm hoping for sunshine to melt this still, instead of having to chop it into pieces!

And the little roses survived it all, both the snow and the frost!

Monday, October 28, 2013


The brilliant red leaves of sumach are perhaps my favourite among fall colours.  Although there weren't really any reds in the maples and other trees this year, the faithful sumach still turns itself on fire.  Again, the best shots are shooting into the sun, with the sun shining through the leaves.  All of these shots were taken right here in our front yard a week or two ago, though I've seen lots of sumach elsewhere that looked the same.

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Sunday, October 27, 2013

Thanksgiving Walk

This was two weeks ago now, but it was a perfect Sunday afternoon, and we took our grandson (and his parents), on one of the gentle walks along the Bruce Trail where he could run free.  The fall colours were glorious in the late afternoon sun.

The beech leaves were especially beautiful, ranging from golden to brown, and hanging on longer than many of the other leaves.  They're always one of my favourites.

 I'll find these on young beech saplings even while snowshoeing in mid-winter.

The stretch of trail we chose to walk is a very gentle one through the forest above the Niagara Escarpment cliff, very easy walking.  The leaves were rustling underfoot all the way.

A cardinal rule of photography is to shoot with the sun behind you, but I find breaking rules is often good (at least in photography), and shooting into the sun often provides the most striking pictures.  I just make sure the camera is hidden in a tree shadow so the sun doesn't glare off the actual lens.

This was about the peak of fall colour for us, no reds, but plenty of yellow and orange. My favourite view in the woods - up into the canopy.

We walked as afar as a spot where you come out to a lookout over the valley.  Here you can see the forest below us, a few farm fields, then the wide forested swamp in the valley floor, before the trees march up the east slope.

For anyone interested locally, this is the Bruce Trail stretch north of Sideroad 13 on the west side of the valley.

Friday, October 25, 2013

Blustery Skies

The snow is slowly melting, and there's a lot more sun than was in the forecast, but the blustery skies remain.  Dark gray clouds bring brief snow or rain showers and then bright blue skies bring back the sunshine.

This was the sky after lunch on our geology hike last Sunday.  Some pretty ominous clouds sweeping in from the western horizon - they look like snow clouds to me.

In fact they weren't coming toward us, but sweeping across the landscape in front of us, the dark clouds contrasting with these old hawthorn trees in the pasture beside the trail.

We carried on regardless (we had to; our cars were waiting for us).  But we never did encounter either rain or snow, surviving the hike with just a lot of muddy boots.

This was today, when I went out for another short walk along the trail.  Streamers off Lake Huron were bringing those alternating dark gray clouds and the bright blue sky in between all day long.

Off for another two geology hikes this weekend; I'll report on them after the weekend.

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Thursday, October 24, 2013

Winter Strikes Early!

I should have known, the little bit of sleet on Tuesday afternoon was nothing - just a foretaste of what was to come!  We woke this morning to 4-5 inches of the white stuff.  Now I enjoy winter, but on Oct. 24th!  We can't remember a snowfall like this this early in the season - ever.

By mid-morning they had finished the main roads and the snow plow was coming by for its first run of the season.  At least they do know how to handle snow up here.

The yard was white, with 3-4" accumulated on things like this fence and all the weeds of the meadow were knocked flat under a blanket of snow.

A lot of trees still have leaves, so branches were seriously bent under the heavy weight of wet snow; it did melt fast though, so I don't think many branches broke.

The roses I pictured against a background of sleet on the ground two days ago were now a lot colder, and covered with snow.  I couldn't even find the actual blooms I posted on Tuesday.

 Yes, there are lots of trees with some leaves left; fall isn't quite over yet.

But the branches of trees and shrubs were laden with the white stuff - always hard to get a good picture of in my opinion, even though it seems very attractive to my eyes.

I liked this pile of snow clustered on the fine twigs of a hawthorn tree, standing just in front of a red oak, with its reddish leaves.  The oaks are about the last to drop their leaves here.

I don't know what you think of this picture, but it captured the mood today as well as any I took this morning as far as I'm concerned.

 But this line in the snow puzzled me briefly.  No footprints or dog tracks nearby, straight across our driveway and along the side of the road.  Was someone trying out their cross-country skiis already?

Then I looked up and realized, it was the line created by snow which had accumulated on the hydro line when it all fell off at once, in a reasonably straight line along the road.  Walking the dog I saw the same thing where hydro lines cross the road.

I'll link this post to Our World Tuesday (even though it's Thursday already), just to show the world our snow.  Among 137 posts linked there this week, there isn't a single one of winter!