Autumn in the Woods (sort of)


Well here it is October and the fall colors here in the western Finger Lakes region are spotty at best. Another dry summer combined with an Autumn that has seen too much warm weather (predicted to be near 80F tomorrow!) and too many overcast days has taken its toll. There are pockets of color – a group of maples standing together in a clearing decked out it orange, red, yellow and green – but overall the leaves are either still green or they have turned brown and fallen. I think this is like the third year in a row that this has happened.

Still the woods is the woods and it is great to be outdoors. I went for a bit of a walk in a local state reforestation area the other day. It was windy in the morning and I couldn’t help breaking off the main access road to wander deep in among the trees. The sound of the wind and the leaves fluttering down around me was very relaxing.

I cut across the hillside following the terrain over wooded knolls and then down into dense valleys and then up again. I got a good workout that way. Eventually I plunked myself down on a big rock in the bottom of a ravine and took a break for lunch and to spend some time listening and watching.

The trees all around were the main attraction. Goaded by the wind they woke from their usual quiet reverie and danced, swayed, and sang. Their drying autumn hands hiss and crinkle as they scrape ceaselessly together.

Against this backdrop there is a rhythmic creaking and groaning. Sometimes limbs grow too close together or maybe one tree looses its footing and leans on another for support. Where wood meets wood a kind of bow and string deal develops. The wind makes the trees sway and the wood slides back and forth. The tones might be high for small pairs of branches or it might be a deep groaning like the timbers of an old sailing ship where two massive trunks collide.

Acorns fall from tall oaks. Dislodged from their precarious roosts they rap from limb to limb on their long free fall until they finish with a quiet plop into a nearby pool of water.

Dry leaves follow the acorns at a more leisurely rate. They waft up and down back and forth in the breeze and land atop their fallen brethren with a soft pffft.

Crickets sing. Small animals scurry through the fallen leaves searching for food that the trees toss down for them. Among the branches small birds pipe in a high treble while away up the hillside grouse drum out a bass line.

A grey squirrel came out to hang from a branch and eye me warily. As I remained still and didn’t seem to be a threat he went back to collecting acorns. Amid all the noise and activity a dark butterfly passed silently down the ravine following a crazy zig zag path that only it could see.

It’s nice to just sit quietly sometimes. You become a part of the woods instead of just a noisy lumbering intruder.



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4 Responses to “Autumn in the Woods (sort of)”

  1. Bernie Kasper Says:

    I agree completely Mark, it is nice just to sit and enjoy the world around you sometimes, I love the image. The spinning motion you have captured is awesome, great work.

  2. forestrat Says:

    Thanks. There was just a small trickle of water running down the rocks and at the bottom was a bit if foam with some leaves in it slowly rotating. Kind of weird so I figured I had better get a snap of it.


  3. Autumn in the Woods (sort of) « New York Outdoors Blog Says:

    […] being less than spectacular this year, MDW still finds joy in a western Finger Lakes Region hike. Click here to read the vivid […]

  4. lookingforbeauty Says:

    What a beautiful description of the woods. I’m having a cruise through your archived posts and am enjoying them. You seem to have a deep attachment to moving water; but in this post you stayed still and watched and listened to the forest and your description of it is really beautiful. I could imagine being there.
    also posting as

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