News & Resources

The Colors Beneath Us - By Eli Baker

Posted by Paul Wiemerslage | Oct 09, 2015

Fall is once again upon us. The days are getting shorter and we begrudgingly pack away our swimsuits and pull out warm coats and mittens. Even though the joys of summer are past for the year, the arrival of fall brings many treasured traditions. From picking apples in the cool crisp autumn air and warming up afterwards with a cup of hot apple cider and spiced doughnuts, to watching the salmon charge upstream. But perhaps one of the most cherished traditions, in which we partake, is viewing the changing colors of the leaves.

Each year we keep our eyes on the trees as they transition from the luscious greens of summer to the rusty reds and browns of oaks, the bright yellows of birches, and the vibrant oranges and reds of maples. We love to celebrate the beautiful colors of autumn so much that we have scenic routes which people can drive in order to take in as many colors as possible. It is true we love our leaves.

During my first few weeks at Au Sable it is evident to me that no matter a person’s age we all marvel at the changing colors. Every single one of the groups, which I have taken onto Au Sable’s trails, have pointed out the colors above them, and I love sharing that wonder with them. But I was reminded that when we find ourselves staring into the treetops we are missing a whole world of wonders at our feet.

Fall is the prime time for fungi to produce their fruiting bodies. As their hyphae take hold of decomposing matter on the forest floor their caps burst forth like colorful rockets working to carry their millions of spores to the sky. Upon my arrival at Au Sable one of the first things that I noticed was the abundance and beauty of the fungi throughout the campus. On my initial treks into the woods I found myself scouring the ground for mushrooms, not to eat mind you, but merely to appreciate the intricacy and beauty with which our creator endowed them. My particular favorite being the many branched coral fungus, which looks surprisingly like its namesake. Even now several weeks into my time here I still find myself stopping to peer into the leaf litter to spot colorful caps emerging from the ground everywhere.

So this fall as you wander creation and appreciate the colors that our creator blessed autumn with, take a moment every once in a while to look down. Look to the rotting logs, the ancient stumps, and the leaves littering the forest floor and I promise that you will be amazed at what you find!