Impressions of Autumn

More so than summer or winter, fall is a time of rapid change in the northern latitudes, especially in the long shadow of the Rockies.

Light disappears at both ends of the day. Colours abound. Rain drops freeze overnight and moths no longer come to the window.

Photographs of vivid sweeping landscapes are popular this time of year. As for me, I’m drawn to out-of-the-way spots where Autumn reveals herself in different ways.

Leaves on the forest floor

Dried grass in shadow and light

Wild rose leaves on the forest floor

Dried grass on the edge of the forest

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Encounter

My friend and I had postponed our hike several times over the past months — too hot (unseasonably so for Alberta), too smokey (from the fires that burned all summer in BC) and most recently because of grizzlies that have been killing livestock.

So before winter closed in we opted to hike Snake Hill. Not nearly as challenging or picturesque as our original plans but definitely safer until the bears den up.

It was a cold, windy, overcast day. As we rounded a bend in the trail we were startled to see someone else on the path. Or so we thought.

A hiker with a dose of humour had travelled this way after the recent snowfall. It’s not quite a real snowman. More of an in-between-the-seasons kind of guy.

Thanks to the person who filled our morning with laughter.


Snow guy   Nix humanus

Falling into Autumn

When autumn arrives in Alberta it doesn’t come with the glamour and flare of eastern Canada where colour spreads like wild fire across the landscape. Yes, aspens turn gold here and bring their share of ooo’s and ahhh’s with blue skies and dark spruce as a backdrop. And cities — with ever-increasing exotic plants and trees — have their share of colour.

I prefer the quiet corners and little seen spots where autumn colour, when I find it, brings a feeling of delight and joy, a special corner of the world.

Right now in our woods bunchberry is painting the understory with reds and purples. There’s dried grass. And fading leaves of lungworts, roses, fleabanes and strawberries.

It’s all a beautiful toss-up of colours and textures, a see-you-next-season greeting card just waiting to be discovered.

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Ahead of the Crowd

Late August and amidst all the rain-lush greenery a brilliant hit of orange and gold.

A small saskatoon berry bush, barely one season old. Far too soon for fall colours — at least among the more experienced plants.

What triggered its leap into autumn? Perhaps it just wanted to see what all the fuss was about.


Saskatoon berry   Amelanchier alnifolia
August 30, 2016