With the strong rains and wind this November there was a lot of action in the rivers, streams, and trees. The low rivers filled to the brim showing spring like waterfalls. The leaves filled with color then fell with the gusty winds providing homes for critters and insects and leaving the landscapes ready for winter. While it may look quiet in the woods now, if you dig a little deeper you'll find a winter world full of action.
Nov 6 - Dundee Falls | Wilmot, Ohio
After the rains, Dundee Falls was filled with flowing action! Lucky for me the leaves were holding fast allowing for these beautiful golden landscapes.
Nov 10 - Goodyear Hts. Metropark | Akron, Ohio
Although we're now residents of Wayne County, we keep with the tradition of hiking the Summit County Fall Hiking Spree every year. On our adventure out on November 10th we got caught in the first "big" snow of the year. The light flakes falling in the soft diffused light created a surreal atmosphere in the tall trees at Goodyear Metropark. We took notice that while most of the snow didn't accumulate on the ground it did however collect on the tree roots that lingered just under the soil. Not sure why, but if you know or have any thoughts we'd love to hear about it in the comments!
Nov 10 - Springfield Bog (Summit Metroparks) | Springfield Twp., Ohio
Continuing the hiking spree we ventured to Springfield Bog. While I prefer this park in the late summer (the majority of the hike is in an open prairie), it was interesting to check out the newly added observation platform looking over the previously bypassed bog (although I suspect the bog is more of a marsh based on the level of growth occurring in said 'bog' - see past post on the differences between bogs, fens, marshes, and swamps).
Nov 14 - Wooster Memorial Park | Wooster, Ohio
While doing my monthly study on the prairie at Wooster Memorial Park I can't help but observe the changes as the new ADA handicap accessible trail goes in. There are bridges, overlooks, and a lovely winding trail wrapping through the woods and prairie. Paving will commence in the spring but for now you can go out and enjoy the graveled trail.
Nov 21 - Barne's Preserve | Wooster, Oh
For whatever reason it seems my mum and I only get out and walk together when the weather gets cold (we laugh about it being too nice during the summer). Barne's is our favorite place to go for a nice lunchtime walk. On this outing the pond had a beautiful thin layer of ice - the geometric patterns in thin ice are one of my favorite things in winter. The trees, without leaves, create their own geometric beauty against the crisp blue sky.
Nov 21 - Brown's Lake Bog | Shreve, Oh
The bog is almost totally brown (not how it got its name) now. Although if you look closely, the sphagnum which acts as an insulator still shows signs of color and the purple pitcher plants have turned their winter crimson making them easy to spot while out.
Nov 21 - Wilderness Rd | Shreve, Oh
The rains that made the waterfalls so beautiful have also flooded the (easily flooded) Wilderness Rd. This birding hotspot is a favorite of shorebirds, waterfowl, and raptors (it's not uncommon to see bald eagles, kestrels, hawks, and even owls enjoying the fish from the waters and the moles, voles, and field mice in the neighboring fields).
Nov 21 - Funk Bottoms Wildlife Area | Funk, Oh
Somedays it's quiet out at Funk, this was not one of those days, as I approached the wildlife area a whole flock of sandhill cranes noisily descended from the air to land in a nearby field. While at the observation deck I was able to spot a variety of seagulls in the distance while overhead flew a red-tailed hawk, a young bald eagle (a couple of years old based on its tail showing signs of white), and a hawk I have yet to identify! In the brush a slew of sparrows chattered away at me.
Now there are many, many thoughts, opinions, and whatnot about guns and hunting but let's just take a moment to understand why there is a hunting season.
Observing two different sections at the bog has been fascinating. Watching how the growth in the forest - protected by the trees - can delay the changes of growth and decay of the lower plants by almost a month is something I didn't expect. See how mid September on the boardwalk compares more closely to October at the loop sign than the September image. Both images are roughly 100 feet away from one another but the open exposure to the elements on the boardwalk have made the changes more abrupt where the trees have sheltered and insulated the undergrowth at the sign. The early changes too, compare the May images and you'll notice the cinnamon ferns along the boardwalk that have received more light (and warmer water due to the insulating properties of the sphagnum mounds from which they grow) are much taller and fuller than the typical topsoil you'll find in a forest. The most current images, however, show that once the leaves fall from the trees, the added insulation has left and the two become quite similar in their hibernation periods.
If you're anything like me, you love the outdoors, you love each season for their individual charms, and you find a great peace out amongst the birds and trees. It's so easy to get caught up in the immediate world that we forget how we got there - forgot what has come before. We look around and take the fluffy goldenrod for granted where as one month ago we were awed by the golden glow atop tall stems. Spring always surprises us with the delicate flowers that seem to appear just as the snows melt.
Every time I go through the one year studies I'm working on, it's almost like time traveling; the mind and senses remember each day distinctly and suddenly you get a sweeping overview of what a year looks like, how it all comes together, and the lessons we can learn by knowing things move in cycles.
It's interesting, and this may be more personal than I'd like to put on here, we'll see if it stays, but by understanding the cycles of nature, seeing that things are predictable but not everything is on the same time as everything else, has opened my eyes to my own personal cycles - times of the year when I feel ambitious, depressed, focused, lost, and decide to make big life changes. By watching nature from afar and seeing how, year after year things move in different ways, but always the same, I was able to step outside of myself and see how my body does the same thing, only on a different scale. It's not enough to know there are cycles, but to see each one, how it moves, what the point of each one is, then it makes the bad days not so bad, it builds a heartfelt appreciation for the good days, and allows space from the days of desperation and need of change.
I guess what I'm saying is, nature, while we think we're learning and observing one thing, can open different worlds to us, ones we didn't know existed or that we needed to see.
The Kenwood Prairie out at Wooster Memorial Park has been a project I've been working on since finishing the Trillium Trail in February. I had hoped from my vantage point to be able to capture the wildflowers that bloom at the front of the property, and the construction as it happens, but alas, even at the highest point I didn't get either of those. However, it is still a lovely section, who knows, maybe after we get a big snow we'll be able to see the new paths!
For a write-up about each month, read on here!
Sunday's storms brought (among other things) really great rain, waking up streams and waterways across the area. I had been wanting to explore Dundee Falls with the beautiful fall colors, kept putting it off, at last the storms came through and I knew the falls would be flowing! Bundling up in all my cold weather wear I struck out early Monday morning to spend some time at this hidden gem. From the parking area, a generally quiet area where you might hear birds chirping or an amish buggy trotting down the road, the low rumble of falling water could be heard. Walking closer the volume increased, first from a rumble slowly getting louder until the roar was so loud it was the only thing I could hear, the crunching leaves ceased to crunch as the water sang the song of her journey. With my tripod in one hand and walking staff in the other I was able to navigate through the rushing waters, tugging on my legs to have me join in their journey. Soaked halfway up my calfs, feeling the urgency of the rushing waters, smelling the leaves as they lay, composting, the colors slowly falling from the trees, its as if fall understands such grandiose can only last a short time, it pushes, bursts, creates so much beauty before it all falls. Then, after the colors fade, the paints muddy, the great artist primes the canvas once again, letting the white sit, dry, digging deep to find the inspiration, taking months to mull it over, before it's time to start the painting again.
Wherever you choose to go outside this week, you will not be disappointed, bundle up!
Since 2015 we have been exploring and sharing all the amazing things we’ve found in nature.
Emily is an Ohio Certified Volunteer Naturalist who is most often found out in the woods.