Nature Notes

Vol. XI November 1933 No. 9


When Autumn settles over mountains the days are growing shorter. The long, slanting rays of the sun are beginning to soften their touch upon all the growing, creeping plants that cover the slopes. The plants, as though aware of the waning briliance of the light now strive in sympathy to repay the sun for grateful summer warmth, and forthwith glow with burning colors of orange, yellow and scarlet. Thus the follower of trails, crossing the mountain meadows in the twilight days of autumn does not note the shade, for underfoot and all about him is a suffusion of color that belies the sun's retreat.

Covering the hills with a mantle of deepest red, the Huckleberry stands supreme among plants for shear abundance of color. Everywhere that the alpine firs withdraw to open up a meadow this plant will find its place and set about to form a sturdy mass of growth. Rising higher than the huckleberry, though scarce acquiring the dignity of a tree, the Mountain Ash glows with leaves of yellow, and flaunts its orange berries for the birds that flock at harvest time. But queen of all ruddy plants of autumn is the Vine Maple whose leaves change at the first touch of frost in the air from green to gold and thence to royal scarlet. And, with a queen's perversity, the maple chooses to wear her whole array of colors on her limbs at once, until at last each one becomes a monotone of brown.

Yet try as bravely as they may, the glowing flowers and shrubs can not stave off forever the chill approach of winter, and still do not complain, for with the first shimmering mantle of fallen snow they realize that now their work is done. To tiny crystal jewels of ice will fall the task of turning back the cold but penetrating glance of winter sun.

Victor Scheffer,
Summer season 1933.

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