Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Autumn in Pennsylvania

October gave a party;
The leaves by hundreds came -
The Chestnuts, Oaks, and Maples,
And leaves of every name.
The Sunshine spread a carpet,
And everything was grand,
Miss Weather led the dancing,
Professor Wind the band.
~George Cooper, "October's Party"

The PA Central Mountain woodlands are adorned in exquisite finery for autumn's extravaganza this year. Like eager debutantes, the maples have donned gowns of crimson, gold and orange while the birch trees have stepped out in shades of yellows and light browns. As they stand beside their partners, the pine, hemlock, and spruce—proud protective escorts in shades of green—accentuate the flaming colors of the gowns.

Shhh! There is music in the woodlands. Listen to a band of bugling elk, the chatter of squirrels, the trilling of song sparrows in the bushes, and the rowdy cries of the crows. Watch as a warm autumn breeze ruffles the couples’ clothing and they bow and sway, dancing to these forest tunes. If you pause and wait patiently, the dancers will throw handfuls of leaves skyward like rainbow confetti, and they’ll swirl upward into the air and flutter softly earthward.

The magical extravaganza will continue for the next few weeks. Then like tired attendees of any event, the couples will end the occasion with a toast to the passing season. Everyone will head home to rest. The kaleidoscope of colors will dull and fade as the weary debutantes shed their apparel and toss them onto the forest floor in brittle heaps, which rustle under the feet of curious passersby.

But rest, even beneath white blankets of winter, is not endless. April has a duty to dress the woodlands again in delicate shades of lime green, just in time for the annual spring festival to begin.