Autumn: Nature’s last hurrah before winter

ESCANABA – Throngs of them wave. Like thousands of ecstatic fans in a large sports arena, their cheers are overwhelming.

It is hard to pick out a face in the crowd.

Big orange faces smile down. Ruddy red complexions radiate with autumn joy. Green and brown and rusty colors all blend into a tapestry of excitement.

For as far as the eye can see, the rolling hills, roadsides and shore lines of Upper Michigan are all decked out in their awesome autumn colors.

The trees are like a huge crowd of happy people. Maybe they are celebrating the end to a great growing season. Maybe they’re drunk on the sweetness of the forest. Or perhaps it’s just their way of having one last hurrah before the long winter’s hibernation.

Even the wildlife seems to join in this festive season. A blue jay bosses from a flaxen colored tamarack branch. Dusty grey coated deer munch on frosty acorns. And the old apple orchard is full of thieves the squirrels, raccoons, chipmunks and bears, all share in the feast.

People, too, are ready to party a little as they take in the peak of the autumn color season. We grab our flannel shirts and hiking boots and head to our favorite outlooks for viewing fall trees.

Some folks head to the hills, some like to see the shades of autumn reflecting off of a lake or river. Scenic outlooks and fall color tours are other ways that we get close to the crowd of tall trees all dressed in their October best.

Most of us have a favorite “autumn tree.” My husband likes the fiery red soft maples. My favorite is the mellow yellow of the tamarack trees, the only conifer tree to change its color for fall and then loses its needles. The quaking aspens are famous for their golden color, but here in the U.P. we call the tree the “Poppal.”

Oaks, with their crimson leaves so leathery, hold their foliage the longest. Sometimes even until snowflakes force them off of their branches.

A maple, a birch, a pine, an oak – they may just seem like common faces in a crowd of U.P. forest land, but when they all merge into an autumn skyline, they are grand.

This weekend, in most places, should be about the peak of the fall color season. Join in the fun in that awesome crowd of trees. Go for walk or go for a ride before it’s time to rake.

Karen (Rose) Wils is a lifelong resident of north Escanaba. Her folksy columns are published weekly in Lifestyles.