Looking for fall color and energy (October 13 newsletter)

It’s quiet here. The afternoon is warm for October, and the sun is out after a week of fog. I’ve had a long week, and we may only have this warmth for a day or two.

These still days are rare — when the leaves are turning and before they fall. One night of rain can knock them loose. So I’ve taken an hour on a work day afternoon to walk up the old hay field on Sheep Hill.

Williamstown Rural Lands keeps pathways in the meadow. They’re steep enough to make me pause for breath, but not a long. Wildflowers are shoulder high and almost gone by, leaving their seed heads starkly beautiful in the late afternoon light.

Maple trees show brightness in the fields at Williamstown Rural Lands.
Photo by Kate Abbott

Maple trees show brightness in the fields at Williamstown Rural Lands.

Bumblebees are still scouting for the last of the golden rod. The milkweed pods are opening, and seeds cluster on creamy strands. One monarch butterfly dips past.

The maples here along the edge sof the field eem to be some of the brightest around, even in a year when July never stopped raining and some hiilsides are looking brown and dull. I wonder whether the stress of wet and heat makes microclimates more visible — if only the trees that grow in the most favorable conditions look healthy.

These have some of the glow I remember, and from the top of the hill I can look out across the valley from where I’m lying on my back in the grass. I’m thinking we should have a word for this vivid color — a word for something strong and fragile and worth working to keep.

By the Way Berkshires is a digital magazine exploring creative life and community — art and performance, food and the outdoors — and I’m writing it for you, with local voices, because I’ve gotten to know this rich part of the world as a writer and journalist, and I want to share it with you.

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