A hat, pair of gloves, and fleece jacket. We needed these for our walk this morning; the thermometer read 39 F. Not cold enough for a frost, but we could see our breath and watched mist rising off a nearby wetland. I love these fall mornings.
Late blooming asters, goldenrods, and other wildflowers seem so vibrant following nights of cool temperatures. Wild shrubs too are laden with richly-colored fruits. My favorite, the winterberry holly (Ilex verticillata), is especially brilliant now.
Perched at the edge of wetlands or other wet places, winterberry is always a cheery sight in fall. It is the female shrubs that are covered in red berries. Winterberry is dioecious, meaning male and female flowers are borne on separate plants. They hold their fruits after the leaves fall, making their small, round, red fruits even more conspicuous for birds and small mammals that like to eat them. Apparently they are poisonous to humans.
One fall sight that may disappoint this year are the sugar maples. At least in our area. We've noticed that the sugar maple foliage along our roads looks curled and dry and spotted. I just read that it is suffering from two fungal infections, resulting from the heavy spring rains -- black tar spot and anthracnose. Not to worry though, as there is always plenty of color, among the flowers, the shrubs, and the trees. Even the mushrooms this year are a riot of color on the forest floor.