As much as I delight in the party pastels and ongoing kaleidoscopic color changes of autumn leaves, I’m also somewhat relieved when the distraction is over. As Thanksgiving approaches in mid November I feel gratitude for bare branches. The leaves fall and a curtain rises on the landscape. Where a month ago the view was all but obscured and visually impenetrable with foliage, now houses, bony ledges, old mill dams, streams and other elements of the countryside can be clearly seen and are outlined in the thin, slanted light of the season.
Among the most intriguing things revealed by naked branches are birds’ nests. Largely invisible since their creation in spring, tens of them can be seen on even a short walk, whether deep in the woods, along a roadside, or in the neighborhood vacant lot. Dark clumps of sticks, mud, leaves and other readily available materials are lodged in the crotches of trees, high in their crowns, on low hanging branches and in the tangled stems of shrubs.