This time of year, the landscape is changing rapidly. We don’t need a calendar to tell us that fall is here; the change in the seasons is reflected all around us. We see it in the trees, the flowers, the birds, and even the squirrels madly gathering and stashing acorns in preparation for winter.
Most of the summer wildflowers are gone or in decline, bowing to the onset of the golden reign of the goldenrods that are so prominent now.
Like the rest of nature, the grasses are also reacting to the shorter days. Little bluestem, festooned in contrasting shades of green and maroon, stands in beautiful contrast to the yellows of the ironweed and goldenrod.
Butterflies are becoming less numerous as their favorite flowers decline. The monarch butterflies, which began their fall migration through western Virginia five days ago, still can be seen winging their way south. This one is enjoying a brief stopover to visit a butterfly bush before continuing on to its wintering grounds (for more on monarchs, see previous post, “monarchs on the move“).
Just by chance, we were lucky enough to spot this praying mantis watching us from the camouflage of the autumn grass – it’s amazing how the insect’s coloring matches the grass reeds, making him virtually invisible to predators.
As I look out, the fields are awash in hues of yellow, gold, russet, and brown. The trees are in transformation as well; some, like our neighbor’s maple, are showing tinges of yellow and orange. In just a couple of weeks, it will be a blazing reddish-orange.
Soon the Blue Ridge will be blanketed in a glorious quilt of autumn colors, a sight more breathtaking to behold than any postcard or photograph could ever portray.
Each moment of the year has its own beauty.
Ralph Waldo Emerson