|Shed moose antlers returned to the earth.|
|Before the freeze. Beaver pond in Pinkham Notch.|
Now that we are in November the rutting season of moose will be ending soon and bull moose will drop their antlers. Antlers are made of calcium much like our bones. When a moose or deer drops its antlers, the calcium stored within is returned to the environment. Calcium obtained by the moose through its diet of leafy green vegetation, is returned to the soil. Much of that calcium doesn't return directly to the soil though because animals such as mice and porcupines will chew on the antlers as a source of calcium. Rare are antlers found in the woods without the chew marks of a critter.
Another example of the renewal and change of November is the turnover of water in ponds and lakes. The warm surface waters of the summer have slowly been cooling throughout the months of September and October. During cold mornings in early fall, a beautiful thick mist is seen on waterways throughout the northeast. This is due to cold air condensing the relatively warm surface waters of lake and ponds into fog as they evaporate. By November that mist is no longer seen much, and it disappears completely by the end of the month. Now the surface waters are close to the temperature of the air and will soon sink to the bottom as the slightly warmer water on the bottom rises to the surface, recycling nutrients from decaying organic matter on the bottom back to the surface waters where microscopic plant life can use it to start the food chain in the spring. Soon the cool surface waters will freeze over, but not before the chilly winds of November mix precious oxygen into the waters one last time before spring.
November is indeed a time of rapid changes that set the stage for renewal in spring. Something to think about and look for the next time you walk the quiet November woods.
AMC Pinkham Notch Naturalist Guide