The Carleton arboretum was raucous with crows but otherwise peaceful in the early afternoon on this partly cloudy but relatively mild November day. The crows were congregating near the river. Several flew from the far side of the river to treetops above us as we walked. I happened to catch one just about to land on a branch in the shot below. As the path we were following curved away from the river, we left their constant cawing behind us.
While the sky was mostly blue overhead and to the north, looking south toward Carleton's Skinner Chapel (visible in the photo below) there was quite an accumulation of pearl gray cloud. With the sun quite low in the southern sky three weeks from the winter solstice, even when we had clear sky above us we were never in direct sun.
A burst milkweed pod displayed its silky contents as we approached the savanna restoration area.
The sign below describes the oak savanna ecosystem that was prevalent in the area until settlers interfered with the normal pattern of natural burning that is necessary to keep the floor of the savanna clear. Invasive, non-native buckthorn is now one of the principal plants interfering with the restoration of the savanna. (Click on the photo to read the information on savanna restoration.)
An area of restored savanna is below.
The path rejoined the river at a sharp bend; below is the view looking back to the south, with a skim of ice at the water's edge holding some of the recent snow dusting that did not last long on the ground.
Despite some light snows earlier in the month, we are still in the brown season, before the arrival of the snow cover that typically lasts two or three months or more in southern Minnesota, providing plant roots a protective mulch against the bitter subzero cold that usually visits us at some point each winter. When we first moved here in 1990, we were told that there was typically snow on the ground from Thanksgiving until March. Our winters have tended to be shorter and less snowy more recently, with white Christmases less certain.
This Thanksgiving I am thankful to live so near to places like this, where in a matter of moments town life fades away and a quiet trail beckons onward.