A whole new world has appeared. Where there was a lush green woods only a couple of months ago, is now bare, black tree trunks and a leaf-covered ground. All of a sudden, the Red-tailed hawk has no midday shade tree to sit in. He has no need for leaves now, there is no reason to stay cool, keeping warm in the sun is a must in the winter. Now that the leaves are gone, the perching hawks stand out in the leafless trees, their white breasts to the sun.
Now that the leaves are gone, I can watch a pileated woodpecker fly through the tree tops in the woods and see which limb he lands on. When there were leaves on the trees, I could only hear the big woodpecker's call to know he was there.
Now that the leaves are gone, I can watch the wild turkeys fly up into the tall oak trees, to roost each evening. Until now, the big turkey birds were completely hidden in the trees. Now they can't be missed as they perch in the bare branches. They also are more obvious while on the ground now that the tall grass and leaves are down.
The many nests of wild birds can be seen but until now were hidden by a cover of leaves.
Hanging from the end of a high branch in a maple tree is the large football shaped nest of the Bald Face hornets. Until now, the gray paper nest was hidden all summer by the large maple leaves. Now it stands out like a sore thumb. Remember, if you want to collect one of these nests, don't do it until mid-December. That's when it's cold enough to freeze any bees that might be inside.
There is one thing that was partially covered by foliage that now stands out that I really don't care to see. The power lines now look like just what they are, black lines across a beautiful natural landscape. Most of man's necessities do little to blend in with the landscape, quite the opposite.
Tonight I had to get my warm coat out for my moonlight walk. Cold enough to see my breath and keep my fingertips stuffed in some warm gloves. My walk was very nice and except for the babbling stream, it was dead quiet. It seems like the insects hide in the ground for winter, just before the leaves fall from the trees and cover them up like a warm blanket.
The bright orange leaves of the maple trees and sumac are gone. They have fallen to the ground and their colors have already faded away. The color orange is just a memory of autumn past. But wait! There is a brilliant splash of orange along the fence row. It's not a tree with orange leaves but a vine that climbs up the old wooden fence post and creeps along the fence. There were no leaves on the vine, they had fallen to the frost. It was just another vine in the fence now except that all along the vines were clusters of bright orange capsules. Some of the three section capsules had opened, exposing a rich red berry inside. Bittersweet!
It's always a pleasant surprise to see a Bittersweet vine. You'd never know they are there until it shows her beautiful autumn orange berries. The sweet sight of a bittersweet vine is undone by a reputation for having poisonous leaves and berries, making for a bittersweet existence. When the land was settled, any plants on pasture land that may be poisonous to livestock were removed. The bittersweet vines liked the fence rows but the farmers didn't like the bittersweet. These days a splash of bittersweet orange in autumn is a seldom seen but beautiful sight.
With the changing of the seasons comes a whole new world to see. Four times a year the landscape gives us a new visual perspective. All we need to do to better understand how it all works is pay attention to what you see. When the leaves fall to the ground, exposed are the secrets of a season that has passed.
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