Zap! That's what the hard frost did to everything that was green. The temperatures dropped into the twenties on Friday and Saturday night, and in the morning the ground was white and crunchy in the valley. The fall colors are just now peaking, and it's a beautiful show. Everywhere you look, there's bright yellows, orange and reds, and the green grass and corn seemed to turn light brown overnight.
A fat woodchuck is munching dandelion greens in the yard. It's a sunny morning after a cold night spent under the board pile. He needs to put on a little more fat before he retires for the winter in his cozy den under the boards. He's got it pretty good under there, his den dug deep in the ground under a pile of old barn boards. To help keep him dry, I placed a couple of sheets of old tin roofing over the boards.
I haven't seen a chipmunk for a couple of days. It's time for them to hibernate until next spring. I guess they will be missed, but at least now there will be a lot more sunflower seeds for the birds.
I would be surprised to see a turkey vulture after last night's cold. They don't spend the winter here; it could be they have trouble keeping their featherless heads warm. Of all the migrating birds, the vultures probably have the easiest task. They glide and soar effortlessly on their long, wide wings. They just drift along and let the wind do all the work.
Yesterday I was surprised to see a little Phoebe outside the window. These flycatchers depend on flying insects to eat, so when the cold comes they usually leave. There was no sign of him this morning.
Gone too are the frogs, turtles and snakes. When the ground is frozen under two feet of snow, they will be sleeping deep in the muddy banks of the river or pond. The snake will find a safe place under a rock or fallen log to spend the winter. Nature will be setting a slower pace from now on.
If you are out driving the country roads at night, you'd best be alert for white-tailed deer. They are beginning the mating season, so the bucks are pursuing the does day and night. They are on the move, with only one thing on their mind, and may pay little attention to traffic. It's up to the driver to watch out for the deer, as they always have the right of way.
There are still some interesting mushrooms to be seen. A few edible Shaggy manes have popped up in the grass at the edge of the yard. A couple of them sliced up in a frying pan with Organic Valley butter goes great with a couple of fresh Organic Valley eggs for breakfast.
People come from all around to see the autumn colors here in the Kickapoo Valley of Southwest Wisconsin. It's easy to be impressed by how beautiful it is here in the fall. There will be lots of camera shutters clicking, including mine. It's wonderful to be able to share this colorful autumn landscape with you.
It's so important to live one day at a time and not get ahead of the living world around us. The Earth sets the pace we were intended to follow, and now she tells all to slow down and prepare to go within. Go within, like the frog in the stream bank, or the woodchuck in his den. Go within, like insects in the ground, or the roots of the maple tree. Time to rest and gather the dreams of the coming spring.
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