Monday, October 30, 2017

Sumac and Sassafras

Autumn! Now there’s a season to be loved. Many people declare autumn to be their favorite season, and you could certainly put me in that camp. But this year, it’s practically making me giddy. And I’m not exactly sure why. I just know that I have to be a part of it. I need to see the colors, and decorate for it, and burn pumpkin candles, and just generally enjoy this beautiful season.  I’m determined to grab every minute of fall before it fades away.

I find that autumn makes me restless. I have to go out and explore Mother Nature to fully enjoy it all. It might start with a walk at one of my favorite Metroparks, Blacklick Woods. If I go early enough in the season, I know I’ll see monarchs nectaring there before heading south to Mexico.

Then I may need to see the autumn displays at Franklin Park Conservatory.

And for sure there will be several trips to Chestnut Ridge. If the colors aren’t at peak on the sweetgum trees there, I’ll have to come back again later. Because I just have to see their crazy kaleidoscope display. As you can see, they weren’t quite ready this day. I’ll return again soon.

If I’m really lucky, I’ll be able to include a journey “home” in the fall. Home to me is a small beachy town on the shores of Lake Michigan called St. Joseph. This year, I was that lucky, and I managed to hit peak color season in southwest Michigan.

In my memories of autumn there back in the day, every fall was drenched in red, yellow, orange, purple, and green. You know how your remembrances can play tricks on you, and exaggerate the reality? Well, my memories didn’t lie to me this time. It was every bit as magical as I remembered.

One of my stops in the area always has to be Fernwood Botanical Gardens. I've never met a botanical garden that I didn't love, but this one is particularly special to me because my grandmother loved it so, along with my mother. Now it's special because I always share it with a dear friend. We find "our" pair of Adirondack chairs, and sit there sharing our lives with each other. Silly me, why didn't I photograph the chairs themselves? Next time.

But it’s always the sumac and sassafras I remember most. These two plants provide a large part of the color show that I love so much. It’s how I know that I’m home. I’m sure they grow in Ohio too, but not so profusely. Once I see the sumac growing enmasse along the highway, I sigh deeply. Have you ever pulled a sassafras leaf from the tree, and chewed the stem? It tastes a bit like root beer. My mother taught me this as a little girl.

If you’re really lucky, you can go home again.

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Early Fall in the Nest

Autumn is warm and summery here in central Ohio, and the colors are slow to appear. But that doesn't mean it's not beautiful anyway! I'm always amazed at how much the world loves autumn. I'd say it's nearly more beloved than Christmas. You can definitely count me in as a fall lover. I anticipate the fall colors more than the arrival of spring, despite the fact that those same colors herald the coming winter. But we're not going to talk much about fall colors in this post, I'll save that for later this month. Instead, we'll highlight the continuing beauty of my flowers as the warmth sticks around for a bit longer.

One of my favorite parts of this season is the butterfly dance that goes on here most days. I'm not sure why it brings me so much joy to know that I've met their needs with my flowers, but it just does. I realize that they don't even know I exist, and yet it makes me happy to offer them nectar here.

Much of the garden still looks like summer, with blooms busting out all over.

But there are touches of fall too.

But I get confused when I see the zinnias blooming so well. I don't usually have problems with mildew on them, but this year it's rampant. I just choose to ignore the leaves and focus on the flowers.

But real fall is coming. Soon the trees will glow with autumn's richness, and I'll be out there snapping my camera as fast as I can. I can't wait to see it! Now if only I could hold off on the first frost, then I'd be really happy. I need to hold onto my garden just as long as can before winter arrives. Don't we all?