Yesterday I was pleasantly surprised when I looked out the window to see the yard was full of robins. Roughly 60 fat robins were busy searching for worms and insects on the mowed lawn. There are many more reasons not to mow the yard than there are reasons to mow it but the short grass does have benefits for some. The mowed lawn provides the kind of food habitat that some birds like. It's why there are so many robins in towns and cities in the summer. The robins that stopped today were moving through together on migration and spent a couple hours in the short grass of the yard before moving south.
All summer long these red-breasted thrushes have been avoiding each other as they stayed in their own small chosen territories. Now, like many other birds of a feather, they are one big happy family that flocks together.
The Kickapoo Valley landscape is quickly turning colors and there are falling leaves with each breeze. I always wish that these beautiful autumn colors would last longer but I enjoy them each day they are here. It will be the last chance to enjoy the diverse colors before 5 to 6 months of winter white.
Since we haven't had any frost yet there is still quite a bit of insect activity in the meadow. Most of the summer flowers have passed but there are still some late bloomers. The little nickel-sized Daisy fleabane has a visitor, a little striped Snipe fly that's feeding on the nectar. Both flower and fly will be gone after the first frost. The male Snipe fly's black and yellow marking are similar to those of a bee or wasp, which helps him ward off predators.
The grass that grows around the pretty blue Bottle gentians is beginning to fade, making the gentians stand out alone. They, too, will lose the battle against the coming frost, but hopefully not until they have made some seed.
It was a good year for butterflies, and they added a lot to this summer's colorful surroundings. There are still a few Monarchs drifting over the tops of the flowerbeds, and a scant few Fritillaries with faded wings and ragged edges. I truly hope they all had a productive summer that will produce even more butterflies next summer.
The white, fleshy Oyster mushrooms grow from the dark limbs of a dying Box elder branch. Eaten in moderation they are very good and easy to dry near the woodstove for us through the long winter. I don't dry as many different mushrooms as I used to, but the oyster mushrooms are still on my list of those I like to harvest in the fall.
Along the path that leads from the house and up through the woods, is a good place to plant some wildflower seeds. I kneel next to a cone-shaped bunch of bright red berries of a Jack-in-the-pulpit. I remove several of the soft, ripe berries from the short stalk and squeeze them between my thumb and forefinger. There are two yellowish seeds in each berry, and I scratch them into the surrounding soil with a stick. The rest of the berries will be planted along the edge of the path as I continue my walk. It always makes future walks more interesting when I see wildflowers that weren't there before I started walking.
A small amount of rain came off and on through the weekend, and the sun broke through the clouds on Monday mid-morning. With the sunshine came cooler temperatures and a stiff breeze that stirred the instinctive senses from deep within me. A whirlwind of falling leaves beckons me to follow with them to the Earth and take shelter by going within.
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