October snow. Too early for this kind of weather, and the warm temperatures are quickly taking it away, but not before the heavy snow-load bent trees and bushes to the ground.
A few of these broke off from the heavy snow-load, but very few. The limbs rather proved their strength and resilience.
Most of the leaves remain on the deciduous trees. Some are starting to change color, but not all of them.
This slow leaf change rather suggests that this change has more to do with light than temperature. Nights are offering some below-freezing weather (and a few days), but mostly the thermometer stays above that freeze mark.
Leaves are saying, this is early October light yet; thank you very much, but we are not quite ready to change color and drop off yet. So plants continue their age-old cycles, regardless of what the weatherman offers.
Eleven wild turkeys strut across an opening in the woods 50 yards ahead of me. Occasionally one or two of them stops and pecks the ground after some apparent food. A few others follow their lead and bend down to check the ground.
Gray squirrel appears 20 feet to my right, stopping every few feet as he moves along, stopping to check out the ground cover on the forest floor. That forest floor cover seems to offer endless resources for these searchers.
The Red River in front of me has risen due to this wet snow and heavy fall rains. It has spanned 40 feet beyond its bank at the spot where I sit. It will be interesting to see how much, if any, it rises in the next hour. There is no doubt that it is rising It has risen a half inch in the last few minutes.
The banks of the red River at this place are populated with silver maple and white oak. I had thought I might find here more green ash, the ubiquitous green ash. But, no.
This part of the river is covered with a beautiful stand of hardwoods. And, I should add, the American elm to the oaks and the maples.
These big hardwoods have taken on the very heavy loading of the wet snow of yesterday. By now the temperature has melted all of it off of them, and they have straightened back up fully, suggesting their suppleness. They show no limb damage. I do admire the strength of these great giants, and the amazing flexibility of the substance of live wood.
Also several of the great maples now stand out perhaps thigh-deep in water at the place where the river banks should be. They are able to withstand having the air cut off from their roots for as long as the river chooses to afflict them. The day closes, and I observe the river has risen a full inch in the last hour.
James Alger, who lives in Fargo, N.D., has been a summer resident of the Leech Lake area with his family for over 45 years. Over that time he has grown to love and appreciate the people and the woodlands of this area.