After an autumn of extra innings in nature’s world series, the leaves are finally down in the deciduous woodlands. Silvery bare branches of scrub oak, beech and maple dominate the landscape these days, set against a sky of approaching winter with its pale sun and thin, high clouds. Soon there will be snow. Until then, a bumper crop of acorns, hickory and black walnuts provide plenty of crunch underfoot on long Sunday walks.

Common winterberry brightens roadsides and the marshy areas that rim the Island.

A deciduous member of the holly family that is also sometimes called black alder, winterberry is December’s home run, lifting spirits and cheering us on to the solstice with its brilliant reds as another year nears an end.