The summer of 2014 is a season I will not soon forget. It started cool and moist and
remained that way most of the Summer and there were only a handful of days above 90
degrees. This cool, damp Summer weather created some fungus problems with Black
Spot, Powdery Mildew and Apple Cedar Rust wide spread. I did take notice in a grove
of Maples that the invasive Norway Maple was much more fungus ridden than the
native Sugar Maple planted nearby. Go Natives!
August and September switched rolls this year. August turned out to be a cool, damp
month and September was warm during the day and cool at night. September was dry
with very little rain. Appalachian Trail hikers have been complaining about dried up
streams and a lack of drinking water for the last month. Hiller Brook, the stream just
south of the Garden Center that flows off North Quaker Hill into the Great Swamp, has
completely dried up. I’ve observed this brook drying up in late July and August but never
this late into September. The Blue Heron are having a “field day” plucking out the
trapped fish in the dry brook puddles.
These dry warm days and cool nights have kicked off some of the most brilliant fall color
in years. The Maple swamps have turned florescent red and orange and the Fall foliage
is now working its way up the ridges. WARNING! Please be careful with open fires and
discarding cigarette butts until we get significant rain. The woods are tinder dry and the
forest floor is filling up with dry leaves so the fire danger is running high.
How I enjoy this month’s bountiful harvest. October is the first biting cold front that
requires a heavier jacket. October is apple cider, pumpkin seeds, hickory nuts, and a
hearty late evening meal after a long day of yard work. The first cold October night
starts the first fire of the season with a book and marshmellowy hot chocolate and
before too long I am out for the night.
October is quietly hiking, listening and observing in some of the most beautiful woods in
the world. Our pace changes in October with shorter days. Our list of chores is much less than it
was a month ago. A time to reflect on what worked and what didn’t in this year’s garden.
October is scaring the socks off the first visitor on All Hollows’ Eve. Make friends with all
the ghosts and goblins in your neighborhood. This friendship will help on mischief night.