The woods already felt cool and dark. I could find many subtle signs that the Fall is here. Everywhere mushrooms are showing up. Douglas Squirrels will soon be harvesting and hanging them in trees. I know there can be some great finds for human consumption but I have never been brave enough to learn anything but the most obvious of the safe mushrooms.
Bushes set berries and they are usually gobbled up by birds. In the Fall it is not unusual to find flocks of drunk Robins hanging about in (and from) trees from overeating fermented fruit. Ash and Madrone are particularly popular. I was thrilled to find these berries. I have never seen our native Orange Honeysuckle , Lonicera ciliosa in fruit. Usually the plants are growing up in trees, so challenging to spot. The flowers are eagerly eaten by birds and small mammals. They will pull off the tube flower and eat the base where the sweet nectar is collected. This honeysuckle plant was right at eye level.
There were Nootka Rose, Rosa nutkana still blooming in a few places. Such a wonderful deep scent. They have large hips (which is perhaps why I like them) and these will serve up tasty eating for many birds and mammals through the winter.
Trees deep in the woods are not changing their colors yet. You can see some yellowing and browning up on some of the larger trees like Big-leaf Maple and Black Cottonwood, but the lovely Vine Maples are still bright green. I am seeing random small trees along roadsides starting to change. Those trees are exposed to harsher conditions. In the deeper woods the change is slow. During those wonderful blue days of late October and early November coming across a graceful Vine Maple surrounded by conifer trees can make you forget about the Sugar Maples of New England.
The fat round leaves of the Vine Maple are easy to remember. Their samaras have wings that are almost straight across.