October in The Last Green Valley
“On such a day as this everything is beautiful and pensive at once. There is a hint of sadness in the transient glory of these soon-departing colors. This is the culmination of the beauty of our northern year. Now in a relentless few days, in a comparatively swift retreat, will come the rain of colors as, dropping singly or descending in showers, the leaves drift down” by Edwin Way Teale, from his essay “October 16” in “A Walk Through the Year.”
Welcome to October, the month most associated with our glorious fall season. Autumn may begin in late September and last three months until the third week of December, but it truly belongs to October. For many, winter starts after Thanksgiving with the onset of the frenetic holiday season. Come November, except for a few brown oak leaves clinging to branches, most of our trees are bare. October is when we enter the most visible seasonal change in our New England year. “The transient glory of the soon-departing colors,” as Teale reminds us, is evident.
Beyond the beautiful foliage, there are other things marking October for me and plenty of opportunities to get out end enjoy The Last Green Valley National Heritage Corridor.
I hope we have clear weather on Oct. 8 and 9, not just for the holiday weekend celebrating Indigenous Peoples Day on the 10th, but because that weekend also coincides with a full moon – the Hunter’s Moon — reaching its full illumination on Oct. 9 at 4:54 p.m. It will be below the horizon at that time, but we’ll get a nice view of it during sunset as it rises into the eastern sky. You can also look for it during sunset on Oct. 8. It gets the name Hunter’s Moon because it signals the start of the hunting season and for Indigenous Peoples and European settlers to America, hunting provided an important source of food to help survive the coming winter months.
This month I’ll make time from my busy schedule to pull vines and dead foliage from our vegetable garden and put it “to bed” for 2022. The last of the potatoes need to be dug, and I’ll do a fall tilling and cast some winter rye as a cover crop to be tilled in come the spring. I will also tend to my fall chore of brush hogging the back pasture and cutting weeds and plants that our horses didn’t eat. The challenge for me is to avoid mowing the goldenrod still blooming in the field. Our migrating monarch butterflies, bees and other insects rely on this wild plant for end-of-season nectar, and I don’t want to deprive them of this important food source until the blooms have fallen.
There is no better way to enjoy October than by participating in Walktober — The Last Green Valley’s annual fall celebration. We kicked off Walktober 2022 on Sept. 17, and now we’re rolling right into October with an impressive schedule of more than 200 walks, hikes, programs and events for your enjoyment. For a complete and updated list of all the Walktober offerings check out the TLGV website at: https://thelastgreenvalley.org/walktober-2/. Multi-day events, such as the wonderful corn mazes and haunted trails, are listed first. You can see them by clicking the “View ongoing events” title. The rest of Walktober is listed by week. Even if you have a printed guide, please check the online calendar for changes and additions.
While participating in Walktober, I’ll be looking for signs of nature reminding me the glorious month of October is here. Much like Edwin Way Teale, we all revel in the brilliant fall colorful leaves of our native deciduous trees. Not just us, but countless visitors from afar who travel to New England to take in our annual autumnal spectacle. The maples seem to be the stars of this annual show, their brilliant red, orange, yellow and gold leaves are photographed and collected by children of all ages, pressed in books or ironed into wax paper to preserve in lasting glory.
But don’t forget the lesser-known cast members and understudies of this spectacle, such as the hickories, which turn a brilliant yellow. We have several in our neighborhood including a tall, spreading shagbark hickory about 100 yards due east behind our house. I am an early riser, typically just before the sun, and I like to step outside to catch a glimpse as the sun begins to rise over the back pasture. This month I’ll be looking for the brilliant light of a new day shining through the yellow and gold leaves of that hickory tree.
Another favorite tree of mine I discovered in an unlikely place — within the Interstate 395-median strip north between Putnam and the Massachusetts border. I did not notice the long line of tamarack trees that had taken root next to the highway until they were in their autumn colors. Tamaracks are our only deciduous conifer and shed their needles every autumn. Before the needles drop, they turn a rich golden tan, typically with each tree the same hue. I’ll be looking for them this month during my travels north on I-395.
October is here, bringing countless reasons to get outdoors and enjoy the natural wonders in a month of visible transformation. Nature conveys a myriad of feelings, articulated to each of us in a voice only we can hear. This month the brilliant foliage of a beautiful sunny afternoon will shout the wonder of seasonal change, and then, on some frosty morning, whisper that winter is coming. Yes, as Teale wrote, October begins “the culmination of the beauty of our northern year” and for some it too will bring a “hint of sadness in the transient glory of these soon-departing colors.”
We live in a beautiful place called The Last Green Valley, a place renowned nature writer Edwin Way Teale chose for his home because of his deep love for this land. I hope you’ll join me to care for it, enjoy it, and pass it on.
Information for this column was sourced from “The Farmer’s Almanac” and “A Walk Through the Year,” by Edwin Way Teale.
Bill Reid is the Chief Ranger of The Last Green Valley National Heritage Corridor. He can be reached at 970-774-3300 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Exploring The Last Green Valley, Sunday, October 2, 2022
The Norwich Bulletin is granted first serial rights and associated electronic rights to publish the following article. The Last Green Valley, Inc. retains all other rights to the work.
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