I often walk a spur of the Superior Hiking Trail in Duluth just completed in the past couple of years. It passes through some maple woods on Duluth hillside. Until October, the land was dry after a summer of little rain. Then the skies opened up in October, and within days every low place in the woods was full of water. These temporary ponds should remain all winter under the ice and snow. In the spring, they should ring with the calls of wood frogs, spring peepers and chorus frogs.
The ponds changed the nature of my walks, adding a new texture to the land that changed day to day. For a while, the ponds were dappled with newly fallen leaves. The black pools reflected the bare branches of the maples in the gaps between the leaves, reminding me of Jim Brandenburg photos I’ve always admired.
Now, as the days and nights have cooled, the first skim of ice has stretched over these little pools. The ice comes and goes depending on how warm the days get. Some days, the pools are ice free. Some days the ice covers most of the pools but reveals open water on the north sides, where the banks reflect the weak sunlight back to the water.
I really enjoy watching these subtle changes day to day. A friend of mine from Ely used to call these little transitions the "seasons between the seasons." Yes, there’s fall and winter. But in between, if we’re out in the woods, we’re treated to a world that’s changing in small ways almost daily.