Fall, glorious Fall! Part one
It is not as if someone flips a switch and suddenly it’s Fall. It creeps in on us slowly, stealthily…the nasty bighting bugs start to disappear, there is a wee chill to the air after dark, the Hummingbirds are all gone, Whippoorwills have become quiet and suddenly the rains come and the fire gets started in the woodstove…
Our last Hummingbird was sighted a bit more than two weeks ago-been pretty quiet except for the usual gang of troublemakers;) I enjoyed their last few days with us by sitting with my morning coffee and watching their antics. I am going to miss them. It was all juveniles-adults had the good sense to head South awhile back, basking in the Mexican sun already no doubt;) I’m feeling a bit wistful watching all these creatures head South to Mexico for the Winter…maybe I’m prewired to keep moving, some days I think so! A wonderful friend gave me an English children’s book I had never read before “The Wind in the Willows” written in 1908 by Kenneth Grahame. It is a delightful tale of mole, water rat, a boastful toad and a badger and their adventures, or misadventures in a pastoral version of Edwardian England. I have to admit when I came upon the chapter “Wayfarers All” of a visiting wandering sea rat telling his sea going shanty stories of the great sights to the South it could have been me, that is what my friend thought when she read it:) sigh…not this Winter. I broke it to the traveling Mewberries that there would be no beaches this Winter but more lovely fluffy snow…they didn’t seem to care as long as they could go out and stalk the chipmunk they said;)
As the seasons change the flowers and shrubs along the road out to the mail box are changing as well. The purple of the Asters and Yellow of the Goldenrod dominates the landscape with Purple Loosestrife dotting the swamps as well. Along the marshy areas and roadsides wild grapes, known as Riverbank Grape (Vitis riparia) wind their way up the trees. I’m going to take some cuttings this Winter and plant them around the house for the birds, and us, if we manage to get any;) they make a wonderful jelly but copious quantities are needed as it is mostly seed and little fruit, but what a flavour! Winterberry Holly and Red Oiser Dogwood also provide many berries for the birds as well as Common Buckthorn which is imported from Europe, another edible invasive:)
..and the leaves, they are starting, a bright red branch on a maple here and there, some yellowing from trees stressed by the Gypsy Moth caterpillars, and some by the drought. In the swamp I encountered a lovely fat Muskrat chewing on some tasty reed before he/she wobbled off…ready for Winter I could see;)
The bumblebees are all still very busy as are the wasps it seems this time of year. A few butterflies have crossed my path in the last week but they are getting rarer as the nights cool. We have had some fabulous caterpillars grace our yard though! A giant green 4 inch long caterpillar curled up as I got too close, it will turn into a beautiful Io Moth. But don’t touch it, the caterpillars are known for their painful sting. Virtually the entire body is protected by venomous spines. A beautiful White Hickory Tussock Moth caterpillar was exclaiming “What to do, what to do…????” as it reached the edge of the deck chair-I relocated him/her to somewhere less precarious;) They also can cause some serious sting so I moved it with a leaf as a taxi 😉
A few Monarchs have fluttered by, as well as Clouded Sulphurs and a few skippers as well. A very tattered Swallowtail found a moment to rest out front before carrying on. I will look at some more late flowering shrubs and plants for next year.
The frog family is still on the screen every night much to Rocket’s delight as they are just too interesting to not watch, or try to catch through the screen. I removed my “anti-deer” tarp the other morning, placed over what seems to be the very tasty chard and lettuce, that protects it from being mowed down by our resident doe and I encountered a gorgeous small green frog no larger than my thumbnail! I relocated him to the rosemary bush on the deck where all the bugs are! What a beautiful little creature! The rest of my Gray tree frog family is thriving-Mom and Dad Bubba jump are getting large, and baby jump, well, he still seems small, not sure how fast these little guys grow! They are quite used to being moved around now as I put the chair cushions out, and bring them in. They favour the lip of the box so I move them when I open and close it for fear of squishing them, no big deal now they say;)
Arachnophobes look away now;) ha! Down at the barn and in Jennifer’s shed are the most amazing Barn Orb Weavers I have ever seen. One was slightly blue shaded, one orange and yellow, and those webs! Oh my! What a delight! I have been looking for one outside, covered with dew they are a sight to see but none so far, I think I need to wander in the fields for that! Jennifer said they reminded her of Harry Potter’s Aragog when she sees them wrapping up their next dinner, I am thankful they are only a few inches long;) We get an occasional Dock spider crossing our paths. One stopped in the alcove, as if looking at itself in the mirror, “Damn I’m fine!” I could hear it exclaim!
The only other bugs still about in any number are the beautiful Autumn Meadhawks and the grasshoppers that delight the traveling Mewberries so much in the morning! Great fun to leap and give chase, and occasionally add one as a snack to their diet. Yum…not, especially when they come back up, on the carpet, why is it always on the carpet?
And now that the rains have come, we have fungus, among us! It has been such a dry year our usual Black Trumpets and Morels spent their year underground but now we have tiny little mushrooms appearing everywhere! A beautiful Chicken of the woods appeared as well! Those colours! Puff balls erupting from the lawn and wee little parasols on tree stumps! Simply delightful! The moss has all sprung back as well, turning from brown to bright green!
It is a glorious time of year:) I am trying not to think like the seafaring water rat, reminiscing about the warmer climes and adventures. I am reveling in the moment. The mornings are calm and windless, the baby Loon is being fattened for his trip South by his father, the goldfinch babies are almost grown as well, but that, is another story. Stay tuned and for now, enjoy a canoe trip to the clouds;) Saludos amigos, abrazos!