Triad Park: The Shades of the Forest.

Triad Park during the month of August. (Photo by Ben Clark)

As much as I would like for the leaves to be constantly green, the sun constantly shining, and the air constantly warm, that is simply an unrealistic request. The air cannot be constantly warm, or the sun constantly shinning, and the forest reflects this reliable evolution throughout the year. In spring, Triad Park is speckled with flashes of pink, light green, and blue. The air smells naturally sweet (not artificially designed to be sweet), and the sound of Cooper (Triad Park’s local Cooper’s Hawk) calling for someone to have adult-hawk interactions with rings in the air. While Cooper calls, Spring Peepers backup his sound up in a contradictory yet beautiful chorus. These peepers, or Pseudacris crucifer as Science likes to call them, are small frogs that are native to the eastern United States and Canada. Spring Peepers get their name, as one can guess, because of their iconic sound that usually occurs at the beginning of spring. When I am walking on the trail and hear Spring Peepers, I make a note that spring is coming–fast.

During the summer months, Triad Park is lush with green. It’s usually warm and a bit muggy, especially in August, but the sights of the forest are worth being drenched in sweat for. Nothing is better than a walk in the forest during the summer; the leaves are fully grown, green, and there for the enjoyment of all critters. A bird that seems to be particularly fond of summer is the Carolina Wren (Thryothorus ludovicianus). During the warmer months, these little Wrens flitter and hop between branches and on the ground, whether it be to gather materials for a nest, grab a bite to eat, or just explore. There are a number of Carolina Wrens around my house, and one of them likes to nest in a coffee mug that my family decided to hang sideways from a hook under the eave of our house. We put a sock in the mug, too, so the little Wren is undoubtedly cozy in there. The fact that these small birds enjoy resting in little places such as a coffee mug is a big reason why the Carolina Wren is one of my favorite birds.

Triad Park during the month of November. (Photo by Ben Clark)

During the months of fall, Triad Park explodes with color in a way that is similar to spring. It differs, though, in that it is not representative of the beginning of new growth, but the end of the year’s cycle. However, new growth cannot begin until the current growth reaches its end, so it does not depress me when the leaves begin to fall. The fall colors are always so rich on the trail; I try to hike there every day, especially when the leaves are colored with autumn. The season also serves as a way to identify the different species of trees that make up the forest. For example, if I were to look at the ground during autumn, I would see maple leaves accompanied by oak and beech. Fall serves as a way to memorize leaf patterns in order to understand the forest on a deeper visual level. I hope to one day be able to see a specific leaf and instantly match it to a tree. I’m getting there. Maples and oaks are the easiest. A good rule for oak identifications; red oak (Quercus rubra) leaves have sharp edges, while the leaves of white oaks (Quercus alba) are rounded at the edges. My mom taught me this, and I thought that I should pass it on.

Author: Ben Clark

Guilford College student, stems from Colfax (NC), branches out everywhere else.

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