Walk on the Wild Side

The sparkle of hickory leaves tumbling through thinning trees onto the leaf-littered ground, the scuffling and shuffling as the breeze pushes them into windrows along the roadside, the smell of them drying and beginning to break down- all these sights, sounds, and smells are part of Kettle Road this time of year.

From the scraping of leaf-litter, a ruffled grouse rises awkwardly flapping with great effort to become airborne and disappears into the denser bush. Further along two turkeys skedaddle across the road. It is the time of serious foraging for these large, non-migratory birds that will spend the winter in these woods.

The sumac’s wine-rust-carmine banners raise the question, how many shades of red can nature create. The burdock has browned and partnered with the golden rods. Like elderly couples, they seem to complement and enhance one another. Grasses have lost their greenery and display the withered finery of old age. Teasel (Dipsacus fullonum) goes from minty green accoutrement to dark kettle drum sticks that might carry a wallop.

Sanford Pond, the small kettle lake offers a kaleidoscope of transitional colors, and what you get is “a double whammy”- trees on the shore and trees in the water.  Even the common milkweed takes on an exotic look, like that of ikebana, in the mirror of the pond.

Someone once asked, “why are you walking these back roads?” For most of us, the world does not work like we want it to (our cars break down, our jobs overwhelm, our bodies take on decrepitude), but here on these seasonal roads there is a rightness about it all, particularly this time year, the end of warm summer days and long hours of sunshine. There is completeness, a certain calm and peace, I find nowhere else. What more beautiful an ending than to go out, not with a whimper, but with glorious texture and color.

– Mary A. Hood, Author of Walking Seasonal Roads

Photographs compliments of Bonnie Warden

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