Page: End Of Autumn’s Beauty

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(HOST) Commentator Ruth Page has been contemplating the late fall beauty still evident along our roadsides.

(PAGE) Wind and wet weather marks the beginning of the end of autumn’s beauty. So, recently on one of my daily walks, I had little expectation of seeing anything especially lively or lovely.

I was happy to see very little roadside trash, though.

I did get a few surprises. In my regular mile-and-a-half trek (three really, as I walk on the other side of the road coming back, and the roadside wild plants are often different there) I saw a surprising amount of color.

In six different places I saw single dandelions. They had  only about one-inch stems, but the blooms were big, and brilliant yellow. Was this their second Show of the Year, or were they new ones that just couldn’t wait until next Spring? Standing alone in the well-mown roadsides, they were striking and cheerful.

So also were the wild asters, deep purple on their branching stems, nodding in the wind. Of course we see them every fall, but they are most impressive on dark, slightly rainy, chilly and very windy fall days. (In fact, if I’d realized how powerful that wind was, I never would have gone walking, and I still don’t know why I didn’t just turn around and go home for hot tea. Guess I’m just stubborn.)

Flowers that had been visible just a week before were gone – I couldn’t even find any bird’s foot trefoil, and it had been plentiful all season. There was still quite a bit of chicory, but its mild blue petals aren’t aggressive enough to make a splash.

The great beauty remaining was mostly underfoot. It beat Dorothy’s Yellow Brick Road all hollow, because it was nature’s own display. There were so many stunningly yellow leaves from maples and other trees, some dashed with red here and there, that the ground was fit paving for royalty. In a few spots there were still quite a few gleaming leaves left on the trees, too, so in a nearby park I was able to walk up a cathedral aisle lined with pure gold. For a few minutes I forgot how cold I was.

It’s amazing how rewarding Nature can be, even alongside paved roads.

Here’s an added note: I picked up a couple of clean, empty beer cans to turn in; if we all do this, it will help the environment. Ones left lying on roadsides get smashed and have to go to the dump; ones we turn in are recycled.

(TAG) You can find more commentaries by Ruth Page on line at VPR-dot-net.

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