The area farmers have been picking corn like crazy. The weather has been fairly warm, 50 to 60 degrees, and the corn has been zapped by several hard frosts. It's been dry, so the picker moves along in a cloud of dust.
Sunday afternoon there was a light warm rain—the kind of rain you might want to take a walk in. I put on my favorite, ratty old hat and jacked and headed out the door. A chipmunk scurried across the porch as I came down the steps. He didn't mind getting a little wet either.
A group of Goldfinches twittered as I walked under their perch, but didn't fly away. The seemed to be enjoying the warm shower, and were happily preening their feathers. A single robin, perched on top of the clothesline pole, was also taking advantage of the cleansing mist. I noticed him pushing his yellow beak down between the short feathers at the base of his tail, where the oil glands are. He covers his beak with oil, then rubs it over his shoulders, giving his feathers and oil treatment. He continued by rubbing his head and upper neck over his oiled shoulders, treating those tiny feathers to some waterproofing oil.
All summer I watch the robins preen themselves like this. Frequently they bathe in the creek, then preen on a sunny perch. Soon the robins will be gone, migrating to warmer climates to the south.
The leaves on many of the trees are still full of autumn color, even though two thirds of them have fallen to the ground. The lovely Sugar maples up the valley seem to glow, bringing cheer to the gloomy day.
As I walked along the woods, I startled a white-tailed deer in the heavy cover next to me. The deer went crashing uphill through the brush, and all I saw was the white flag of his tail. He sounded like a buck—or should I say, I thought I could hear the brush hitting his antlers as he ran. As luck would have it, I got a glimpse when the buck passed through an opening between cedar trees, heading towards the top of the ridge. I thought about how I wouldn't have seen that beautiful buck if I has stayed inside my warm, dry house. The old phrase, "You don't know what you're missing," really hits home when it comes to being outside. There's always something neat to see.
As I passed through the yard on my way home, I noticed how brown and shabby the Zinnias are looking. Apparently the dried flower tops look pretty good to the finches, chickadees and Juncos who were busily picking out the flower seeds. When their blooms have faded, the zinnias still do a service to nature by providing for those in need. I will plant zinnias here again next May, and there will be another season's promise in the ground.
I hadn't been in the house five minutes when I felt something crawling on my leg. Pulling up my pant cuff, I spotted a tiny Deer tick moving slowly up my leg. The ticks have been in force since mid-September, and have been pretty thick for the past week. I pick several off me each day, even days when I haven't ever left the yard. The cold weather will set them back, but that doesn't come for another month.
Enjoy this wonderful "Indian Summer" weather while it lasts. Soon a jacket, hat and warm gloves will be the dress code here on nature's northern trail.
All art ©2013 Organic Valley