This is a time of mixed seasons, warm summer days blend into cool autumn nights and dewy mornings. The Red-winged blackbirds are flocking up as are the swallows and swifts and soon they will be gone until next spring. The tree-tops are busy with tiny unidentifiable warblers. They eagerly search for tiny insects among the leaves. A flock of young Turkeys stay close together as the slowly patrol the pasture snapping up grasshoppers and crickets. There seems to be an abundance of these protein rich insects this fall. There are also lots of birds and mammals taking advantage of them before the cold comes and the insects are gone.
Grasshoppers and crickets eaten by migrating birds will give them the extra fat and energy they will need to make the long trip south. Most all the small mammals taking advantage of the autumn insects feast. Deer mice and field voles eat their fill as do raccoons, opossums, skunks, foxes, squirrels and weasels. The frogs, snakes and salamanders too are fattening-up on insects and before long they will begin their long winter sleep.
This is a time of the year when the color green mixes well with yellow. The river bottoms and roadsides are a blend of tall green grass and the dark green, leafy foliage of yellow sunflowers, cone flowers and bright yellow Canada golden rod. Adding to the colorful fall landscape are the beautiful lavender blue New England astors. Although most of the tree and shrubs are still green, the sumac leaves have turned to bright yellow, hot orange and red giving a show of colors as good as any of summer's flowers.
I'll lay a small fire in the wood stove in the morning to take the chill out of the place. I'm sure the season's first frost will be on by morning. I'll spend a little time before sunset covering some flowers and tomatoes with plastic so they don't get burned by the frost. Then, take a little time to pick a couple of extra bouquets from the summer flower gardens. These I'll put in a vase with no water to let them dry. The tall, red salvia and giant zinnias will often keep their colors through most of the winter. It's a long, cold and white winter and colorful flowers always sets a mood for every room.
I also picked a couple of dark blue blossoms from a delphinium and few pale, blue violets. I like to press them between pages of a book that probably I'll go through during the winter. Sometimes these pretty little pressed flowers will accompany a letter to a friend or relative, thus passing on the memory of the beautiful summer flowers. These are just a few of the things I do to help brighten the months ahead, with these little reminders of the promise of the spring.
The frost came in the night to the valley, with a low temperature of 29 F and clear sky with a million of stars twinkling above. Things will slow considerably as nature turns down the heat. The quickly evolving pace of summer has passed and it's time to let yourself be outside. It's the perfect time to enjoy watching the season's changes as we drift slowly towards winter. This may help us to realize what the natural world does to prepare for winter. The trees are the last to bloom into glorious colors here in the Kickapoo valley and are the fall color show of leaves. These wooded mountains turn to brightly mixed shades of yellow, orange and red, the true colors of autumn in southwest Wisconsin.
The zinnias fade and the asters beam, a little part of what autumn means.
The air is warm and then is not, and the cozy sweeter that you forgot.
The tall brown grass bursting with seed, where flocks of finches come to feed. The landscape soon will fade from green, a little part of autumn means.
A leafy change from green to gold, a lovely sight that can't be sold. Bright yellow, orange and red, covering forest's bed.
A bluebird's song and the geese that pass, the warmth of summer you hoped would last. Reflecting on your summer dreams is a little part of what autumn means.
A fresh apple's crunch so sweet and spry, especially in a apple pie, a gift from summer that you should try.
And the hummingbird will follow the sun and reach his dreams, a little part of what autumn means.
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