Report by Will Vuyk:
Waving under an autumn wind, leaves of vibrant green, yellow and red added visual intricacy to an otherwise grey day. Picking up one of these leaves, pointing out its flattened petiole and triangular shape, field trip leader Paul Quinlan, Madison Parks Conservation Resources Supervisor, added his passion and knowledge to the beautiful fall scene as 25 eager participants arrayed themselves next to a cottonwood tree. Teaching more than just the names of trees and shrubs along the path out to Picnic Point, Paul began to reveal their individual uses and ecologies with insights into landscape architecture, fire ecology, succession, and invasive species management. Bolstered with new knowledge about why oak leaves wrinkle, how to identify the presence of emerald ash borer, and the culinary merits of sumac (just to name a few of anecdotes shared by Paul), when participants emerged from the forest after an hour and a half, they were able to look back and see it for the trees. Report and photos by Friends host Will Vuyk.