Thursday: the first of September and the first day of school. I watch bouncing children board a yellow school bus, eager to see old friends and meet new ones. For me, school was a great place to be with friends, but there wasn't a day that I didn't long to be outside. Outside was a world of things to learn and do, places to go and explore. I think I would have been a much better student if I wasn't so distracted by the world outdoors! Still, I've found over the years that nature is my classroom, every day of my life.
This was a crisp morning with the fresh smell of autumn in the air. The coolness reminded me that an extra blanket felt pretty good last night, as the temperature outside dropped to about fifty degrees. As I walked through the dew-covered grass, I notice the space along the edge of the yard where the woodpile should be. It's time to think about staying warm in the frosty months to come. After all, I usually have morning fires by the third week of September. The more I thought about firewood, the more urgent it seemed to be to get some, without delay. Realizing these warm summer days and nights are numbered, is a chilling thought itself.
The trees on the wooded skyline are showing their first signs of fall color. It's still very faint overall, but some of the sugar maples are displaying a tinge of orange and gold. I have a gut feeling that the first frost will come in about two weeks. There's things in my garden that could use some more time growing, so I hope I'm wrong. the pumpkins are big enough now, but they need time to ripen to their classic orange color. The birdhouse gourds could also use every last day.
It seems I'm picking fresh flowers every day now, because I know that soon the frost will claim most of them. Losing the flowers is like a sad goodbye to a summer friend. At least I will see them again next year.
When I fill the bird feeders these days, the chipmunks are first in line. They don't eat, but fill their cheek pouches with seeds and scurry away to hide them. They keep returning to the platform until the seeds are gone. The gray squirrels come for breakfast, too, but they eat their fill and leave. The chipmunks and gray squirrels take about 70% of the bird seed, and the birds get about 25%. The remaining 5% is cleaned up at night by flying squirrels and deer mice.
A friend told me that chipmunks are eating his blueberries and asked if I knew what he can do about it. To begin with, he must realize, the "chippies" will always think you planted blueberries just for them. I kidded that he should just try planting more blueberries!
Once they're on a mission, squirrels and chipmunks are hard to control. Over the years, I've just learned to live with them. When it gets cold the chippies will hibernate, and they won't be seen until April.
At sunset, a large flock of Nighthawks passed over on their migration. They don't fly in any kind of a formation or close group; rather they fly all over the sky, hunting for bugs as they go.
At sunset, the little brown bats fly out from their hiding places in the barn and attic. They've been out every night through the summer, and as long as it stays warm enough for the insects, the bats will fly.
The Whip-poor-wills still sing their songs at dusk, although it's just a short version of the lengthy tune they sang last spring.
For now, I'll linger in the late summer days, and let the crickets sing me to sleep each night.
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