The zenith of fall’s colors lasts only a few days, and for some reason or another, I think I’ve missed it every year I’ve been here in Arkansas. But this year’s peak fell on a weekend with beautiful weather and plenty of time for a hike — this weekend. I took advantage at the old standby, the Ozark National Forest around Devil’s Den State Park.
What continually amazes me about the annual color explosion is that plants have a lot of the pigments that make it happen year-round, part of a chromatic net to catch as much sunlight as possible. They’re just overwhelmed by the familiar green of chlorophyll. Plants usually have to keep remaking the stuff and stop doing so around this time of year. So the oranges and yellows of carotenoids burst forth, sometimes in a way that looks almost pointillist, as with the oak leaf above. The same class of compounds gives carrots their color. The red is my favorite, though, and comes from a combo of sunlight and sugar.
If you want to see it all, hurry. And thanks for looking.
More and more I wonder whether humans will survive themselves. Neo-Nazis, Puerto Rico, incomprehensible suffering in Myanmar and Syria, climate change and hunger, and then that nagging chance of nuclear war — it’s a damn matryoshka doll of global misery right now that is impossible to grasp. I’m fortunate to have a job where I can bring a little time and attention to some of these issues. It isn’t enough. Talking about the beauty and meaning in the world feels pretty trite and inadequate, and appreciating those things feels harder. I’m working at that appreciation and at my job. That’s what I got.
In that vein, last weekend brought a good dose of unabashed weirdness and occasional beauty from the annual Puppets in the Park at Fayetteville’s Wilson Park. The performance appeared on here once before. The show’s plot is always simple and wordless and political in some way. I was mostly there for the 20-foot white-cloth eagle and 10-foot sun getup, and the makeshift musical accompaniment.
Thanks for looking. Keep working.
Thousands upon thousands of motorcyclists rolled into town this past week for Bikes, Blues and BBQ, but for the first time since I moved here, I mostly skipped it. The rally has an oversupply of photographable characters, not least one fellow in a Viking helmet who buzzed around on a scooter waving around a plastic hammer. But I wasn’t really feeling the earsplitting roars and smattering of white supremacist symbols that also tend to come with it. I hiked this morning instead.
The first time I walked around Lake Wedington, back in April, the lake and the waterfall draining it were overflowing with rainwater. I had to turn around about halfway down the trail because of it. Now we’ve gotten hardly any rain weeks, so I wanted to try again.
The water was mostly still, steaming in the early morning and disturbed only occasionally by a solitary circle of ripples. The trees have begun losing their green. A motorcycle occasionally drove by on the lake’s other side.
When I got to the end of the lake’s dam, suddenly there were a lot more of those ripples. Little black shapes hopped out of a quiet cove every few feet, one after the other. They disappeared so quickly that I’m still not sure if they were frogs or little fish, fleeing from a bigger fish or pouncing on prey. They popped up silently and constantly for at least the 20 minutes I sat watching.
The waterfall was a trickle, but I still couldn’t go any further. Spiderwebs more than a foot wide slung across the path. I knocked one down, made lots of noise when I walked into another, and saw yet another further along. You win.
Thanks for looking, and happy fall.
I hope you all had a nice Thanksgiving. Mine had all the good stuff of family and food, plus a gift Saturday morning: a thick fog in the backyard and temperatures below freezing.
Winter’s coming. Thanks for looking.