I went for a drive along the back roads on Monday. Though the day began cloudy, it cleared by mid-morning and the brilliant sun on the golden tamarack to our south gave me the travelling itch.
I decided to explore toward the border and work my way back along the Larsen Road off of Highway 61. The Larsen Road is a back road, unpaved with plenty of twists and turns, ups and downs. I drove slowly watching out for any other drivers but, fortunately, none appeared. After all, it was a weekday, mid-morning.
The country on either side of the Larsen Road was logged within the last 20 years, in some places more recently.
Where once I could drive and see vast cut-overs that seemed to go on for great distances, now a thick growth of young poplar had sprung up making the surrounding countryside look like it had been given a brush cut – a grey brush cut.
Interspersed among the mass of grey there stood small stands of looming white pine. I’ve been told that the cost for a permit to cut white pine is prohibitive, that there aren’t enough trees to warrant the expense.
For the casual tourist (me), the sight of single or in some cases, a hillside populated with these great sentinels, their dark bark and richly dark green needles lit up by the sun sends a thrill up my spine.
But there was one hill on my Larsen Road tour that afforded a spectacular view looking west into a great valley. Here the new poplar growth did not prevent me from seeing the distant mesas and hills, cliffs of exposed rock except for the very tops that wore green tams, or so it seemed.
What caused me to gasp and slow to a stop was a huge swath of gold in the middle of this valley as if someone had dumped a pot of gold paint to create the illusion of a golden lake.
It was the largest growth of tamarack I’d ever beheld and it sat in the middle of the valley surrounded by these giant hills.
The brilliant sunlight reflected off of all that gold that appeared to sparkle, at least to my eyes.
Occasional clouds passed overhead to block out that brilliance in the middle of the valley but even then, the beauty of all those trees was not diminished.
Wow! Now that the poplar and birch leaves had fled their branches leaving browns and greys covering almost all of the terrain, the immense oases of gold were especially noticeable and glorious.
Eventually I put the vehicle in gear and continued my slow drive, drinking in the contrast of grey, gold and rich green when it appeared.
During the summer, if I drive these routes, I have to really concentrate to distinguish between the different greens that make up the various conifer species clothing. Never noticed there was so much tamarack growing in this part of the world. Now I notice and am impressed and all thanks to the ever-changing season that is autumn moving toward winter.
Ow! I would have to mention the next season that I’m not ready to have settling on this land. Well, it is getting colder at night and we have had a couple of dustings of snow – nothing remaining on the ground, mind you. Oh yeah, there was that one afternoon last week when for about four or five minutes we had a full-blown blizzard here at Casa Jones.
I was happily ensconced in my reading chair by the fireplace when the sudden sound of rushing wind hitting the house caused me to look up to see horizontal snow streaking past the windows and coming from the northwest. I got up and came closer to the window to watch.
A preview of what is to come, I thought. The horses in the main paddock all had their heads down and their backs to the wind.
“Gee,” I mused, “if this keeps up, we’ll have to bring in the horses to the barn early. They haven’t yet grown their winter coats and the snow will stick to them; and with that howling wind, some of them will get quite cold.”
Fortunately, the snow ceased almost as quickly as it came and lo, the sun emerged to at least provide some warmth as the horses’ coats slowly dried. They all went back to their favourite activity – munching of hay.
So, most of the leaves have gone in this rural part of the world. Those few trees still bedecked in their autumnal coats, stand alone. Not for long, I suspect.
But will Ol’ Man Winter hold off at least until after Halloween?
One can only hope.
You can contact Rural Roots by e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org or write to Rural Roots, P. O. Box 402, South Gillies, Ont. P0T 2V0.
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