Wednesday, September 13, 2006

crown vetch at carlos avery wma
Last weekend offered gray skies, a cold mist, and a near-hopeless rush to get the fence and pond finished before the snow flies, but that didn't rule out a trip to Carlos Avery WMA, one of the first parks we've been able to visit since early summer.

As we set out, we saw that Autumn color was already creeping along mid-Minnesota's backroads. There were yellow explosions of goldenrod, the rich burgundy of sumack, and fiery orange and yellow creeping into the green mantle of the maple trees like stray grey hairs. Some cherry trees were already bare. We saw the first purples as we drove in Carlos Avery; stands of vetch, an invasive weed often used as livestock fodder, ground cover, or for its nitrogen-fixing roots, thriving along the roadside or sending vine-like tendrils up along the forest edge.

Iwild swans at carlos avery wmaf there's something that sets Carlos Avery apart from the other parks in the area, it's the lack of the human element. Picnickers with noisy children, cyclists with Ipods and sunglasses filtering out the world, cutesy couples asking you to take their photo, you won't fine any of these metro park mainstays in Carlos Avery. Washboard roads aren't just the only way in or out; they're also the only human facility in the WMA. The hiss of wind scratching through the white pines, or animals of the deep woods and marsh seem enough to compel you to talk in whispers.

We didn't hike far out into the park this time, just enough to watch a pair of swans pass overhead, and hear the distant, high, laughing call of some unidentified bird.

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