For three decades I have cherished this unspoilt vista of rolling, wooded ridges and valleys.
Enlarging the canopy in the distance, the standing dead remain in the woods where there is less urgency for their removal than those near buildings, roads and power lines.
This cedar stands in front of a preserved, historic log cabin. I have been watching it become progressively thinner.
This pine is across the street. It too had a unexceptional complement of needles just two years ago, and now the top is completely bare.
The new, green growth on the tips is not sufficient to compensate for the more rapid loss of prior seasons' needles.
This particular one is a maple, and leaves yellowed from chlorosis - an inability to produce chlorophyll - are festooned on dying branches.
It became impossible to ignore the fact that leaves are exhibiting signs of exposure to pollution, even this early, and so after I got home I took a series of photographs of random examples around Wit's End.
Of course, some of the speckling, stippling, discoloration, holes and singed edges may be directly attributable to insects, disease, or fungus (all of which inflict worse damage on plants weakened by air pollution) but even so, the important point is that SO MANY different kinds of leaves are injured.
These are all weeds I don't even know the names of.
The layers of heartshaped leaves look lovely - a wonderful cool blue I would love to dive into.
But there the good news ends. This willow oak in front of the paddock fence is missing leaves.
Those that exist are exhibiting an unhealthy mottling. Even more alarming is the bark on the trunk, which is splitting and corroded with lichen.
The maple a little further down has the same BALDing syndrome (bark atrophy lichen decline).
It's leaves, though not completely robust, wouldn't cause concern to the casual observer.
Next on my ramblings I made a detour to walk through the Elizabeth Kay Environmental Center, a nature preserve off an obscure dirt road which, incredibly, I had never thought to visit before. The Patriot's Path goes through it, but aside from a few backpackers making that journey, it was deserted when I stopped. I will have to return when I have more time to follow a trail to the Black River Gorge.
This I believe was a summer home for the Kay family. It now houses meeting rooms.
The patio has a view of a giant meadow, and the woods far beyond.
This sweet little garden is off to the side of the building.
Don't click on that picture of the Kousa dogwood or you'll see that the bracts are stippled.
The leaves of the big oak behind the blue bench are distorted by puckering and discoloration.
This pretty laurel reflects the pink hue of the house, but as you scroll down you can discern the portent in the leaves.
Even the best trees in the distance are thin. Remember going into the deep shade under the spreading canopy of a tree? That's been impossible to find anymore. There are always patches of sun filtering through, so the shelter isn't dark and cool anymore.
As I was leaving I passed a mock orange, which possesses one of my favorite garden fragrances.
This is a phenomena that wasn't widespread until the end of the summer last year.
Here is a cultivated snow on the mountain.
And here, to go back full circle, is a linden tree at the train station in Peapack, which was all green last week, and then started turning a few days ago.
Heading back to Wit's End once again, brought me through the village of Pottersville.
The mother is very shy and hides from the camera, so I first got a glimpse of a disgruntled catbird.