Monday, November 7, 2011

Pleasures of Smoky Gold

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.



Blogger Birgit said...

Great article and nice pictures, really help to understand what's going on in nature right now and wants all of us just put shoes on and go hiking too.

November 7, 2011 at 4:15 PM 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Great! Thank you! I thought tamaracks only grew in the UP until now. I will need to be more observant while out and about.

November 7, 2011 at 7:15 PM 
Anonymous Gina said...

Beautifully written! Fall is my favorite time of year. Such a lovely tree for all to see.....if you stop and look around you.

November 8, 2011 at 5:34 AM 
Blogger Sandman said...

All the Oakland County parks are a peaceful place to visit and unwind. Even just sitting in your car in a parking lot with windows rolled down to listen to the leaves Russel helps.

November 8, 2011 at 6:07 AM 
Blogger Jonathan Schechter said...

Thank you Sandman, Gina, Brigit and of course anonymmous for your comments----- tamarack makes me want to sneak in a few more woodland/wetland hikes before snow falls, then it's switch over to snowshoes or cross county skies. I find it amazing that so many people do not take the time to stop and look around or visit any park in this season of gold. (Flurries Thursday I think!) Retreating glaciers set so many stages of nature for us in Michigan:UP and lower!

November 8, 2011 at 6:30 AM 

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