The walks I take each evening are something I look forward to, a part of my daily routine. There's always a pair of binoculars around my neck, in case there's a chance I get a closer look at a deer, turkeys, or a hawk. Maybe some warblers in the tree tops or a bluebird on a fencepost—I'm spoiled when it comes to getting to see the wildlife close up. The old binocs really paid off today, as I stood and watched a pair of adult Bald Eagles soaring in circles straight above my head. They didn't seem to be in any big hurry to leave, as they circled over me for 4 to 5 minutes, looking down at me all the time. You never know what you might see while on a walk down Nature's trail.
This time of year, the temperature may drop drastically after sunset, so wearing a jacket is a must. A jacket with pockets is best, so I have a place to carry some of the treasures I find. I have to carry a branch of Sumac with red berries, but other interesting things I drop into my jacket pockets. A couple of rich, yellow Cottonwood leaves; a few chestnuts; a Blue jay feather; a nice, fresh mushroom; and a Delicata squash I had missed in the tall grass at the edge of the garden.
Sometimes my pockets are full by the time I get back to the house. It's always been that way—ever since I was a boy I have been putting Nature's beautiful treasures in my jacket or pants pockets. Now that the flowers are gone, having succumbed to the killing frost, I get more creative with my "flower" arrangements, using other things instead of flowers. The treasures I found today look beautiful arranged in a wooden bowl. Natural beauty is everywhere, and is possessed by all the living things we have compassion for. I make my bouquets and arrangements in honor of Nature's beauty.
Ice in the water pail on the porch Sunday morning, but it turned out to be a very pleasant day, sunny and 55 degrees. So far it's been a perfect, slow change in the seasons. It means for many, less stress when it comes to adapting to the cold. For those who cache seeds and nuts for winter, the longer the snow stays away, the easier it is to put away the food. For those animals whose fur keeps them warm, the mild weather helps while waiting for the warm guard hairs to grow in. It also gives the birds time to grow in the warm, fluffy down they will need when the real cold comes.
The flock of ten handsome turkeys make a short visit to the yard every day. It's been a good year for the turkeys, as they have had plenty to eat and lots of rain this summer. They looked very clean, fat and healthy, ready for winter.
I've been seeing quite a few more immature Red-tailed hawks passing through the Kickapoo Valley this past week. They are the same size as the adults, but their plumage is more barred brown, with chocolate brown over their breasts. The juvenile hawks have a slightly longer tail than the adults, which is also barred brown and white, as opposed to the red tail feathers of an adult Red-tail hawk. There's other, even more subtle things to look for when trying to distinguish a juvenile from an adult. If you're lucky to see one very close up, you'll see that the eye color of the first year bird is a soft, lemon yellow. By the second year, the eye is turning brown and will be nearly black after five years. The first year, hawks are known as Passage birds, meaning they are making their first passage south for their first winter. Most of the adults will stay behind, having proven that they are adept enough to survive the winter.
At sunset last night, I watched a Great Blue Heron as he slowly flew across the river valley. He may be the last one I see until next spring.
All art ©2013 Organic Valley