Folded Field Notes: TRANSITION

Folded Field Notes is an interactive column that explores a new ecological topic each fortnight — part writing challenge, part citizen science project — led by alternating guides with assistance from editor & ecologist JS Graustein. Will you join us?

TODAY’S TOPIC : Transition
Transition is the passage from one condition, action, or place to another. In ecologicial terms, this can also include transition zones where different kinds of communities interact along a wavering abiotic boundaries (think tidal zones, floodplains, alpine treelines, etc.).

Caroline Fout hails from Middleburg, Virginia where she grew up strapped to the back of numerous fat ponies. She spent last winter as a ski instructor in Vail, Colorado and joined Folded Word this summer while sojourning in the White Mountains of New Hampshire. She is a freelance writer and an outdoor enthusiast, and when she’s not on the back of a horse, she’s most comfortable strapped to downhill skis.

Today: sweet smells of crumpled, dying leaves on a walk thru the woods, orange and red tints growing brighter. A transition I mourned, then appreciated. Webs laden with dew strung up between trees, branches, twigs. Walking thru makes for a frantic dance, arms and hands, reaching and grabbing for that sticky gossamer.



A cobweb floats through the air, untethered from a tree – only visible as the light catches its transparent threads. Gossamer tired and torn, a ghostly passing. I follow the strands and watch as they come to rest, gently laying down as a fawn might: carefully, silently, to a carpet of damp decaying leaves – their display like a bonfire left to extinguish itself. The ghost of a spider’s hard work disappears. Something passed. Something to take its place. In autumn, death is merely transition.

©2018 by Caroline Fout

Your turn! In the comments section below, please let us know if you’ve observed any kind of transition recently — including general location and time of day. We’ll leave the comments open for the next two weeks in case you need a chance to go on a field trip first😊 And if your encounter inspires you to write a response (short poem, flash fiction, or mini essay), please come back and share that as well. In November, we’ll post a community poem based on all your observations. We’ll also select one of the response pieces to publish in our Written Word Wednesday column (revisions may be requested).

Please note: Comments are moderated. Your comment may not appear online right after you submit it, but we will see it in our dashboard.

4 Comments on “Folded Field Notes: TRANSITION

  1. Love this!

    Sent from my Samsung Galaxy , an AT&T LTE smartphone


  2. Fireweed

    You never notice it until the middle of summer, when the magenta flower-spikes suddenly crowd every roadside and wasteland. They have outgrown grass and nettles, and stand tall above the lesser whites and yellows of daisies, dandelions, clovers.

    In Britain we call it rosebay willow herb–surprisingly ponderous for such a common plant. Its transition passes more rapidly than its name. The purple flowers curl off into whitening seed-down. The leaves brown and wrinkle early, falling off gradually to leave long, bare stems, woody-looking but pithy-dry inside, plentiful to gather, light to carry, quick to burn.

    In other parts of the world, they call it fireweed: Nature’s best kindling for winter fires.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Pingback: Fireweed – Folded Word

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