NATURE NARRATIVES: Outside an autumn window

By Melissa Walker
       Morning rays of sunlight filter through our backyard aspen trees and the woodbine vine that decorates my window. The backlit red and gold leaves of the woodbine transform the window into stained glass. The woodbine (also called Virginia creeper) is at the peak of its autumn glory.

Autumn window view.
Courtesy of Melissa Walker

       The brilliant fall colors lure me outside for a short walk. The air is brisk and I zip up my jacket. Almost everywhere I look, garlands of red woodbine encircle the trees and shrubs of the neighborhood.
       During this year's warm summer, the sun-seeking woodbine vine used our house as a trellis and quickly grew toward the light. The vine's tendrils attached to vertical walls and window glass and soon the east side of our house looked like an arbor, covered with green leaves and tiny green berries. One afternoon I discovered a tenacious vine that had crept toward the south side of the house and had clasped our windchime with its tendrils. I quickly released the “captured” chime.
       Although woodbine isn't native to Colorado, it has adapted well to the forested and irrigated urban landscapes of the Front Range. Many native birds now use woodbine for food and shelter. Robins build nests in the vine's leafy bower and Northern Flicker woodpeckers devour the ripe blue berries.
       Returning home from my autumn walk with the day now warming up, I open my vine-covered window. I hear the staccato drums of the Coronado High School Marching Band practicing on the football field about a half-mile away. Now my window sounds like autumn, too.

Ripe blue berries.
Courtesy of Melissa Walker

Walker, a long-time area naturalist, posts regular entries in her online blog at She has given her permission to reprint selected pieces in the Westside Pioneer.

Red garlands of woodbine.
Courtesy of Melissa Walker