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For the pine trees and interdune hemlock it's business as usual. They'll persist into the winter, as puffy snowflakes absorb every sound and the dunes are silent. They'll witness it all. In the company of other pines. But now, all around them, their deciduous neighbors are preparing to sleep. They shed their green from the edges to the veins, from yellow to orange to red to brown. Everything is either dry or wet as they recede back to their roots, leaving a vacant form behind, to fall and be reconstituted by a persistent Autumn drizzle.




Two ecosystems sheer off against one another, sandy dune ground against the edge of the fertile woods, where the trees stop and dune grass begins. Trees on the edge expose their deep gnarled roots on one side, and on the other side they grip tightly to the edge of their habitat. They deposit seeds that eke out a living as tiny scrub oak and thin maples.


The interdune woods have an indescribably vibrant smell...pungent from fragrant plants softening and dropping their foliage, fresh from the winds off the lake. The smells of the earth rise up and pass like scenery on the wind.



Crispy, brown mushrooms flair up near where the dune grass holds enough moisture in the sand. At the bottom of the dunes, a space with odd signs of water, strangely placed aquatic grasses and moss...this is where the water table from the nearby Lake approaches the surface, sometimes popping up when lake levels are high, offering a brief habitat for frogs and turtles, marsh birds and muskrats.



Originally posted to Muskegon Critic on Thu Oct 22, 2009 at 12:58 PM PDT.

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