45 degrees Fahrenheit
As winter draws near, the foliage seems to hunker down, drawing closer to the Earth’s surface as if to share its warmth. No longer is the eye drawn heavenward with to the dense canopy of fiery oranges and reds, but down the barren brown trunks towards the ground. Here, vines and woody shrubs send out new shoots interlacing to crochet a blanket over the soil, layered with dead leaves as if to insulate it from the impending snow. Paths have been cut through this blanket where twigs have been flattened by the daily commute of a herd of deer, eager to fill up on the infantile buds of the surrounding shrubbery.
This woodland area borders a small farm where the farmer has harvested his crop, the landscape is littered with hollow corn husks carried on the breeze, a sign of another successful autumn harvest. This landscape was he perfect childhood playground. We would lose each other amongst the rows of corn, which towered over us blocking our vision. At the forests edge it was not uncommon to catch a pant leg on the rusty barbed wire, snaked across soil a reminder of the lands past as a cattle farm. The sun was low in the sky, its rays dancing playfully through bare branches, inspiring a kind of melancholy as I reflected on a familiar landscape and applied new knowledge which only served to deepen my connection with this place.
The woods at this place in Pennsylvania differed from those at Salmon hole. The dominant species here is red oak as opposed to the Cottonwood which comprises most of the over story at Salmon hole. Cottonwoods prefer river banks and the well drained sandy soils found there which explains why it would not be found in this moist soil. Paper birch, common to Vermont, are also absent from this location. Perhaps the elevation is not high enough for the pioneer species to thrive. Honeysuckle is a significant contributor to this sight’s understory as well, it is also common throughout Vermont however it is absent from my phenology site. The variety found here is the Japanese honeysuckle, distinguished by its black berries that bloom in the early fall. A few berries remained, perhaps a product of the unusually warm fall which persisted into early November. The climate is similar here to that of Vermont, there is four seasons which come with similar changes in temperature, light, and precipitation. It seems as though the phenological changes presently occurring in Vermont were mirrored here, with Pennsylvania remaining just a bit warmer.