The last week of August had a cool, mellow flavor, with daytime highs in the low to mid seventies, and dipping into the forties at night. The breeze has a certain gentle warmness by midmorning and I can feel the first light touch of fall on my face. Summer is beginning to gently fade into the coming of autumn. The lush green landscape is beginning to show sings of soft light, green and yellows. The trees have stopped feeding their leaves and the summer green begins to fade to fall colors—fading from green to yellow, orange or red, and then to brown. The leaves are on the end of the cyclic journey, and before long they will fall to the ground, and slowly they will become part of the tree again.
The valley still has the songs of birds, but they are singing their songs with far less intensity. The robins and bluebirds are fewer in number around the house and garden. There are a few house wrens but they're not nearly as sassy as they were a month ago.
The white spots on the fawns have begun to fade away, and the bucks have begun rubbing their antlers on the young tree saplings.
A large puffball stands out like a sore thumb at the edge of the pasture. A deer had taken several bits and exposed the mushroom's rich white center. I had to admit, it did look good enough to eat, and I'm sure I'll get a chance to sample some this fall. Thinly sliced and fried in Organic Valley butter, puffballs are a tasty treat.
The leaves of the Sumac are some of the first to show signs of fall color, and each branch has a bright red cone of berries at the end. Nearby, a bramble of blackberry stalks still has some shiny, sweet berries to offer to anyone who passes by.
I like it when I get lucky and spot something that may usually be hard to see. Clinging to the trunk of a large black locust tree was a beautiful, big cicada.
Cicada larvae may live in the ground for up to 17 years before they mature. When they develop legs, they crawl out of the ground and up a tree trunk. They emerge from a shed skin with the large, clear wings of a mature adult cicada.
It's always fun to check tree bark for insects; you never know what you might see in the cracks and crevices. Another fun thing is to look under rocks and fallen logs to see who is living underneath.
Today, I rolled over a dead elm log and found a busy colony of ants, who acted very upset that I was spying on them. There were also several fat, black crickets, some sow bugs, a small centipede, and a very small brown snake. This tiny snake can't be too old, and wasn't any longer than a nightcrawler. I'm always happy to see tiny new snakes, as it means the snake population is healthy and reproducing.
The last summer and fall wildflowers are beginning to appear. The tiny yellow flower that cling to the heads of the Indian grass are very pretty, but almost too small to notice. It's always good to get in close for a better look or smell. Not far from the creek are the lovely blossoms of the Creamy gentians. They are similar in size and shape to their cousins, the Bluebottle gentians, but are less often seen. They grow in only one place in the meadow, and I look for them every year at this time.
I love this beautiful season when summer fades to fall, and I watch where both seasons overlap. It's one of the reasons I love living here in the Kickapoo Valley of Southwest Wisconsin.
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