On the hot dry days a week ago, a single leaf would let go and waft slowly to the ground dotting the green grass with yellow or red. The few times a breeze blew, a drizzle of leaves would be carried down, giving the impression of a quilt pattern on a green background. Most still held to the trees, scarlet sumac and yellow ash, red maple.

This week there have been moments of drizzling rain when patches of blue appeared. Mostly, from Sunday to Wednesday, water has streamed from the sky. Clusters of yellow aspen and birch leaves litter the pathways. More soggy leaves cling to the lawn, the side of the road.

Most of the leaves are still on the trees. Strangely, the main canopy here is still green. Perhaps the warmth of last week outweighs the creeping cold of this week, though I thought the changing colour was mostly due to lower light levels. And it has been dark—short days and heavily clouded skies. I am not complaining though. With all the leaves still clinging to the trees, the spreading vistas of colour may still come. It is only mid October after all, as much as this week felt like November.

Another interesting note about trees here by the shore is that every cedar is heavy with cones. The clusters are like pale beige-brown flowers—I guess there were flowers that I had not noticed. The cones stand out against the deep green. At least they did. The last few days, many cedars have browning leaves. It was a tough summer with the July dry spell and another in September. Along with the September heat, I am sure trees are moisture stressed. This rain will be soaked up.

And we have had volumes of rain. The streams flowing off the escarpment are full. The rains flowed through the channels in the fractured limestone and are racing to the bay. And there are puddles. Some at the side of the road. Most one level up the escarpment where the soil is thin. Dry as it had gotten, that layer was soon saturated. Now, it is seeping through the stone or laying on the ground. Boots are essential to walk up there.                           

Again, I am amazed that all that land was cleared, that people tried to farm there. There are a few cleared fields remaining south of where we are, but the rest are growing up in hawthorn, apple and cedar, with some planted pines and a few of the next stage in succession—birch and aspen with young maple and ironwood.


CathyHird body 14Oct23

The ditches are full, as are the swamps. I am reminded that old-timers around the farm said that the snow could not come and stay until the swamps were full. But those were folks who lived with a thick layer of loam, some clay, some sand, but a layer that could absorb a lot of water. The summer-depleted swamps were never full until sometime in November. Despite the full swamps here, I don’t think we need to worry yet about snow coming and staying.

I am hoping for a good snow cover this winter. Part of the reason the July dry spell was so costly is that we did not have a cover of snow that stayed until spring. We got huge dumps in November and at Christmas, but these melted away. Most of the winter, there was a thin blanket on the ground. I lost two shrubs and most of a dogwood last winter, and I am betting it was the lack of snow cover protecting roots.

I did read a prediction that a typhoon in the Pacific may shift the jetstream and give us snow by the end of the month. But what will come is what will come. In the meantime, I need to watch for dry days when I can start to rake the leaves into the gardens and around the trees. A traditional fall job.

Cathy Hird lives on the traditional territory of the Saugeen Ojibway Nation.






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