The First Fall Colors Appear At Community Park.

The First Fall Colors Appear At Community Park.

Community Park (13 of 22)
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I will admit, I am not a big fan of Fall anymore. I once was. I loved the changing seasons and the cooler days of Fall. I even liked  what followed, I loved Winter and snow. Those who know me may  find that hard to believe. Now I dread the  cold and dark days of Winter. I whine and complain  as soon as the temperature drops into the 40’s  and  continue whining until Spring. I have a daily  Spring countdown on my Facebook profile. .  So I do not look forward to Autumn anymore.  It is the beginning of the end of the long  and warm days of Summer I  love so much. I don’t stop living in the cold and dark seasons of Fall and Winter. I still get my hiking in, everyday, even on the coldest sub-zero days of dark January. However, my hiking is more a chore, a mission to achieve, than a  enjoyable walk experiencing the beautiful flora and fauna  in the warmer months. 

Well, the reason for this rant,. on my hikes in the Community  Park  near my home in Hazle Township Luzerne County this week the first noticeable colors  of the Fall season appeared  in the trees along the shores of Lake Irena.   Many red maples were turning a brilliant red. They were pretty but also a reminder the Summer is over. Soon all of the woodlands here in Northeastern Pennsylvania will be ablaze in colors. 

There were many more reminders on my hikes.  Colorful sassafras  leaves scattered along the trails, and 

the pickerelweed that produced beautiful flowers in the waters along the shores of the lake was all shriveled and brown. 

The many ferns along the trails, including cinnamon ferns were turning yellow. 

Winterberries were now found along the trail. 

It  is still early in the Autumn season and most of the trees and plants growing in the park and along the lake were still green.

  Some flowers still bloomed on the trail around the lake,  including prairie fleabane flowers, 

rabbit tobacco flowers, 

downy goldenrod flowers, 

autumn hawkbit  flowers. 

I also saw these sneezeweed flowers in the surrounding woodlands.  It is sad but these will be some of the last flowers I see  this year. 

I didn’t  see many insects on my two hikes. There were a few dragonflies near the lake including a blue dasher dragonfly,

and autumn meadowhawk skimmer dragonfly,

and a old slaty skimmer dragonfly that has seen better days. 

There were also a few milkweed tussock moth caterpillars  in the woodlands near the lake. 

We had a lot of rain this Summer and there were some mushrooms growing along the lake and in the nearby woodlands. These are brick top mushrooms,

and this,  a russula mushroom. 

On my first hike the skies were cloudless. but there were high clouds when I retuned for my second hike making for some pretty scenery. 

I saw a great blue heron on both hikes. I think it was the same one.

It was slowly  stalking it’s prey, dragonflies, frogs and fish,  in the decaying pickerelweed flowers. 

It didn’t seem to mind as I would approach,  

flying away only when I got really close. 

I love seeing them with their wings in full extension. There are more photos of the heron in the link I will   share below. 

I also saw  few black capped chickadees, 

a white breasted nuthatch, 

a small flock of Canada geese, 

and a belted kingfisher that kept eluding me. Here is a link to a gallery on my website with more photos of the great blue heron and other birds I saw on my hikes. Community Park birds September 23 to 27 2023. 

There were fewer folks walking around the lake this past week. In the Spring and Summer the lake shore is lined with fishermen. There wasn’t one on my two hikes. And usually I see dozens of folks ranging from very senior citizens to young children, solos walkers, runners, and groups of friends talking and laughing. Fall arrived and it was quiet this past week. Only a few dedicated people taking their daily hikes. 

I  did see a few more critters, a few painted turtles, enjoying the weakening sun on logs in the lake, 

and some gray squirrels romping through the park and woodlands. The turtles will soon disappear under the waters of the lake, but like me, the gray squirrels will be here all Winter, and like me probably not enjoying the cold and dark. 

Well, those days aren’t here yet. And, I am hoping we have another mild Winter  like we did last year.  They say beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and there is beauty in the snow, ice, dark and cold. I just don’t behold it anymore.  I prefer the warmth and light and the plants and animals that it provides us here in Northeastern Pennsylvania. So like the migratory birds I am already planning a few trips south. But  I will still be here for most the the Winter, enduring my five to seven mile frigid hikes, sharing the beauty I find and whining and complaining about it until the first day of Spring. Here is a link to a gallery with some more photos from my hikes. Community Park September 23 top 27 2023. 

Autumn is a season followed immediately by looking forward to spring.
– Doug Larson

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