Monday, November 7, 2011
A "Smoky gold" morning at Independence Oaks County Park - North
photos by Jonathan Schechter
To hike to the edge of a swampland at sunrise or sunset in the early days of November is an
adventure in pure pleasure, a sensual delight for the senses of sight, smell and touch. There is
no better time than now to explore the world of the tamarack, a deciduous coniferous tree that
looses all her clustered soft needle-like leaves before this month ends. Walk silently near the
now golden tamarack and you discover why the term 'smoky gold' was coined by Aldo Leopold
in his classic work, Sand County Almanac.
It's a perfect description of the result of a near magical transformation from their summer mantle
of soft emerald green to their smoky gold hue that signals the waning days of autumn. Wait
two weeks to walk and every one of their needle-like leaves will carpet the the woodlands or float
on quiet waters leaving only the tiny cones as a reminder that spring will return.
Although these images were all captured at Independence Oaks County Park on November
7th, tamarack trees can be found in many colder parts of the northern hemisphere. In northern
Oakland County they are most common around small glacially sculpted kettle lakes, bogs, marshes
and undeveloped wetlands.