Early Fall Color

Fuzzy Butt and I head off down Pine Hill. "My name is not Fuzzy Butt!" he says.

Fuzzy Butt and I head off down Pine Hill. “My name is not Fuzzy Butt!” he says.

Inspired by Farmer Tom of Wishetwurra Farm (up the road from me apiece in West Tisbury), I’ve been packing my little point-and-shoot whenever Travvy and I go out.

Fall in New England raises expectations high. We’re famous for our fall foliage. New Hampshire, Vermont, and western Massachusetts are famous for roads congested with tourists come to gawk at the fall foliage.

Wasp nest (I think)

Wasp nest (I think)

Fall foliage on Martha’s Vineyard, however, often doesn’t live up to my expectations. Oaks are the most common deciduous trees here, and oaks aren’t the natural showoffs that, say, maples and birches are. (We do have maples and birches, but they’re vastly outnumbered by oaks.) Oak leaves seem to rush through the color stage, or bypass it altogether. One day they’re a worn-out green; the next day they’re brown and falling to the ground.

white 3As Farmer Tom’s photos reminded me, however, you’ll see more color if you look downward or from side to side instead of just upward.

Poison ivy makes even tree trunks colorful.

Poison ivy makes even tree trunks colorful.

Fall really is an extravagantly colorful season on Martha’s Vineyard. Morning and late afternoon light can transform a ho-hum dull yellow leaf into glowing gold. Nestled in green, clusters of flowers flash white or yellow or blue along the trail.

Winged sumac

Winged sumac

Last year I fell in love with winged sumac. This omnipresent shrub, with its deep reds and burgundies and every shade in between, lives up to my very highest expectations of fall. This year I’ve been watching it grow from unobtrusive to bushy and, now, from glossy green to radiant red.

It’s the textures of fall as well as the colors that make me wish I could paint, or weave, or knot rugs big enough to hang in a castle banquet hall. I can’t, so I thank fall for doing it for me.

tapestry 1

red & green

Old County Road in the background

Old County Road in the background



About Susanna J. Sturgis

Susanna edits for a living, writes to survive, and has been preoccupied with electoral politics since 2016. She just started a blog about her vintage T-shirt collection: "The T-Shirt Chronicles." Her other blogs include "From the Seasonally Occupied Territories," about being a year-round resident of Martha's Vineyard, and "Write Through It," about writing, editing, and how to keep going.
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3 Responses to Early Fall Color

  1. tompostpile says:

    Yr nest is probably a whitefaced hornet nest. They pack a wicked sting. One flew up my pantsleg years ago, and stitched its way out. The leg was swollen for weeks.
    (Farmer) Tom
    Wishetwurra Farm
    WT, MA


    • Aha! I looked at some pictures of wasps’ nests and they looked sort of similar, but I didn’t check out hornets. Will do. This nest is definitely alive. There’s another one on the ground maybe 20 yards away that isn’t. At least I don’t think so. I wasn’t about to let Travvy get his snoot too close. My snoot either.


  2. Shirley says:

    Lovely, Susanna…..


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