Nature Notes, Autumn Bearsville

Autumn Bearsville, Bearsville Center Nature Notes, October, 2023


I think we’ve seen the last Hummingbirds and Monarchs (what relatively few there were) for the season, with a few northern stragglers of both wafting through. Other autumns they’ve stayed longer but I understand - why bother with such fleeting sunshine and warmth?

Many of us feel the same about now. Another, less-noticed migrator - Dragonflies - are still here, though in fast-dwindling numbers. Very interesting creatures, with a strange beauty - fast and fierce insect predators. The last - and largest ones - Green Darters, will probably leave Bearsville shortly, some to migrate, some to encyst in wetlands ‘til next Spring.

Good luck to all of our seasonal animal visitors in their epochal travels south. It really is amazing to think how far, and what obstacles and challenges they face. In the coming season, as we walk through our dour winter marshes, meadows and woods, let’s remember their colorful summer avian and insect inhabitants, all gathered together in some warm, sunny clime. Maybe as we do so, they, in turn, are dreaming of our/their ancestral warm and sunny summer meadows in the north. Of our once-full Cricket Chorus, only a few Crickets remain as they ever-so-slowly wind down their season.


Perhaps the most surprising of local migrations is that of plant and tree as they - each in their own way - hunker down for the season ahead. Yes, virtually all of these leafy beings devote as much of their energy, planning and time to preparing for the coming of winter as the animals do. Only their preparation, their “migration” (more subtle and initially hidden) is vertical, not lateral, as they gradually move their precious life-blood, their sap down into their root-systems, safely under the freeze-line, not to be brought back up into bole, branch and twig until the light and temperature signals of spring.

The forest is “brilliant”, not just in its coloration, but in its planning for this because it waits to bring its sap down until it has laid a new layer of insulating leaves onto the ground above to also break down over the winter into more soil to nurture itself. In addition, by removing leaves and sap from branches, the branches are much less vulnerable to breaking and freezing in wild winter weather. Very efficient adaptations. That’s how all beings survive in nature - through adaptation. I submit that modern humans have a lot to learn from this - as all native peoples already know.

What it All Means

Though I love Fall, the passing of Summer is bittersweet. No more days of endless light. No more Dragonflies, Fireflies, Hummingbirds and Monarchs. No more cacophony of bird and cricket chorus. The time is past when we were inundated, overwhelmed even, with every life-form - overhead, in our face and underfoot - aptly symbolized by the very thickness of humid Summer air.

No more sandals, shorts and tank-tops and even then feeling overdressed. But that’s the great thing about the four seasons - one barely gets a chance to get tired of one season before another comes along. I’ll adapt - I always do. I put my straw hat away and broke out my heavier Stetson and it feels good already, same as getting used to keeping a jacket or vest handy. Still, this is such a dynamic, transitional time here that it is best to dress in layers - even October can be warm.

The Great Wheel of the Year is turning, friends, and the seasons roll on. As I’ve mentioned, there is so much - both good and bad - going on in our world - locally and world-wide - that sometimes it feels like its all hard to keep up with. Part of this, of course, may be that we are all constantly flooded with information - perhaps too much so. Yet I believe that we all have to persist in our drive to be informed, to do the right things, to work hard to fix what is broken and to forge ahead to improve the world for ourselves, our kids, our grandchildren and those yet to come. After all - it’s up to us to make the world a better place - nobody is going to do it for us - and I believe we can. Thank you all. Please have an enjoyable and safe Fall.

Leaves Leaving

Just in time for the leaves to turn on our mixed hardwood forest, I’ve finished the second - and final - loop of our Nature Trail. I’m justifiably proud of it and I know you will all like it, as it winds through our Bearsville Center forest of huge White Pine Wolf-trees, remnants of Bearsvilles farming past, our glorious Pollinator Pathway meadow (readying itself for winter) and over to our wonderful grove of Sycamore trees.

Without leaves it is easy to see the Center’s many neighbors, as it will be easier for them to see us, as well, so please be considerate. As the season progresses, and it seems like life is disappearing from around us, I will try to point out how much life still surrounds us here in the eastern Woodstock Valley, but is not always apparent.

Thank you. Take Care, “Ranger” Dave Holden