The little oval terra cotta seed was attached to a fluffy, feathery parachute. The wind swirled and changed directions, letting the parachute and seed dislodge itself from the dry milkweed pod. The tiny seed, along with a dozen others, went circling high into the air, looking like big snowflakes rising rather than falling. No one knows where they will come down—it could be only a couple hundred yards, if the wind stops. With a brisk wind, the tiny milkweed seeds could be taken high into the sky and come down many miles away. It's just one of a million ways that Nature spreads her diversity. Pinching a few of the fluffy seeds between my fingers, I tossed them into the air and watched as they disappeared up the valley.
My walk took me to the far end of the meadow where I spotted a few red apples high in an old, gnarled apple tree. I can't pass up the chance to sample a wild apple, and sometimes they are a tasty surprise. I soon realized the apples were out of reach, but maybe the wind had sent one to the ground. Sure enough, there was one right at my feet, and it looked small but inviting. But, this little round red apple was special, because there was an owl feather lying next to it. It was a nice clean molted feather from the left wing of a Great Horned owl. He must have sat in the apple tree, perhaps the night before. I wondered if he was watching me from somewhere in the valley. It kinda felt like he was.
There are so many subtle Autumn treasures to find while on a slow walk. A few tiny crab apples find their way into my pocket. Some nice fresh Oyster mushrooms would be good for breakfast, but they wouldn't do well in my coat pocket. Often I fold up a small bag and stick it in my back pants pocket for these discoveries, but I forgot one today. Maybe I'll walk back this way in a day or two, with a bag of course.
I pass by a Sumac trunk that had the bark rubbed off it by a White-tailed buck. Then I spotted another buck rub further down the trail, and then another, on a nice pine sapling. Most of these trees won't survive the assault by the buck. All he is thinking about, though, is rubbing up his antlers and wearing off some excess energy.
The cornfield in the valley is a waving sea of crackling golden leaves. The morning sun glistened across the top of the field like it was touching water. All around, there are subtle treasures to enjoy, but be quick—treasures tend to fade fast.
After a night-time low of 66 degrees on Thursday night, it cooled down a bit on Friday and brought some rain mixed with snow that night. The wet, dark tree trunks and limbs were so much darker against the bright leaves on the ground. They are leafless now, and will stay that way until the end of next May. The color green is what I'm looking forward to each day until then.
The young Red-tailed hawks are passing through the Kickapoo Valley now. I counted seven while taking a 20-mile trip down river. These hawks are known as passage hawks, because they are making their first migration (or passage) south for the winter. Their beautiful chocolate breast feathers and brown tail are their juvenile plumage. After the first molt, their feathers are replaced by new adult feathers, including a red tail. The young hawks lemon eye color will grow darker brown as time goes by.
There is always something interesting to see if we are open to the world around us. Knowledge and interest will come to those who are observant.
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