Sumac Hill in October Impression


Joined November 2011

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It is a long hike up the hill on Fern Trail in Clearcreek Metro Park to the meadow on Chestnut Ridge. The naturalist at Clearcreek had shown us the day before how the sumac was turning red. That day had been sunny and bright; not so conductive for photos so I could not wait to return to catch the sumac in better light. After a rainy and wet morning of loafing and reading the sun started peaking out of the sky and into my windows so I got ready to set out.

As I drove to the park the sky lost the peaks of sun that I hoped to catch and turned back to gray. I started to fret about the time as you have to be out of the park by nightfall. I tried to remember what exact hour the sun has been setting and considered the fact that it was going down on the other side of the hill which could leave my homeward bound journey cold and dark.. I had already driven all the way down to Clearcreek, threat of nightfall or rain aside, I had to go up.

To reach the ridge you first take a woodland journey across a path lined with evergreens, streams and ferns until you reach and pass under an enchanting Eastern Hemlock colony which leads you around and across a simple, wooden bridge until you find yourself going up to the dryer hillside which is filled with oaks and maples and sweetgums. Nuts cover the ground as you rise through the woods to the top of the hill.

Then you curve to the right and suddenly find yourself in an open space which is lined and a-flush with red sumac and dogwood leaves and yellow tulip poplar and goldenrods and purple asters and the sun is shining down on it all like a crown.

This is where I have taken you, to this opening.

It was hard to leave the hill which was still awash with lingering light but I forced myself to walk back across the meadow and towards the forest which would be getting damp with dark. I also didn’t want to face a Ranger who would not look so kindly on me breaking the rules of getting out of the park before dark. As I moved swiftly across the meadow, I took one last glance around and trotted down the hill in the cool forest. I heard movement and murmurings around me as the deer, and other creatures drifted about in the semi-darkness and a hoot owl called and called and filled my heart with warmth. I really didn’t want to leave but wanted instead to soak into the mystery of the night.

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