A thin layer of clouds filters the sunlight, which casts a muted haze on the forest. The sky is dove gray, the air crisp like a tart apple. This week we expected change, and on Monday morning we were not disappointed.
The leafy canopy is gone, both at our site and now throughout the park. Deflated leaves linger on the oaks and rattle in the wind. The ground is strewn with seasonal discards — curled petals, acorn veneers, broken twigs, leaves and more leaves.
Hidden behind the red maple trees are branches bursting with floral fireworks: witch hazel in bloom. This native species puts on a dazzling display at the end of autumn. Those witch hazel shrubs that blossom in gardens in the spring are species imported from Asia.
Clustered in threes, each pale yellow flower is festooned with four twisted ribbon-like petals. These retract in cold and extend in warmth to welcome pollinators. Small gnats and bees visit to collect the only nectar and pollen available this time of year. Often accompanying the flowers are furry, tan fruit capsules that shoot out dark, shiny seeds.
Also, click here for more Autumn Unfolds pics on Flickr.