The nights have been clear and the mornings have been frosty this week. The temperatures have been in the 40s, but the sunshine made for pleasant days. We were greeted each night by a beautiful full moon, twinkling stars and nippy 20-degree temperatures. The coyotes always seem to be in good voice whenever there is a moon to sing to.
Itís November already, and the landscape is beginning to look like it. There hasnít been any snow yet but the white stuff could show up any day now. Iím kinda hoping that the snow takes its time coming, at least until I put up the rest of the firewood needed to get me through the winter. So far, I have only about half of what I need, so it would be nice to have a couple more weeks of nice weather to get the job done.
Thursday I took a short trip along the Mississippi River, which borders the county some 45 minutes west of here. The view of the mighty River from up on the bluffs always gives me a thrill. At first glance it looks more like a large lake from that vantage point and leaves little doubt that itís the largest river in North America. Iíve often wondered what the first settlers must have thought when they first saw such a grand river valley.
There always seem to be large birds soaring over the bluffs: herons, cranes, gulls, geese, hawks and eagles, just to name a few. All of these birds, plus many others, use the river as a flyway to the south. The Mississippi is about a mile wide here. This time of year, huge rafts of ducks, geese, swans and even some white pelicans bob on the light waves, but they were too far away to get any decent pictures. Unfortunately, I didnít have much time to spend along the mighty river that day, but I was inspired to return soon. I am so lucky to live in one of the most beautiful natural settings in the world.
Friday morning there were four pretty does gleaning left-behind soybeans from a recently-harvested, frost-covered soybean field. The ground looked flat and white, an unlikely place to see four deer at sunup, but they go where the food is.
A beautiful buck stepped out of the woods and started to nibble at the grass in the meadow. Heís probably been up all night following the sent of the does and heís taking a little time to find something to eat. His keen sense of smell picks up the trail that the does had left, and slowly, with his nose to the ground, he starts to follow their trail across the grassy meadow. He stops for a cool drink from the creek before returning to his mission. The does come into season only one day out of the year and will only accept the buck on that day. He will succeed at his natural purpose if he is diligent about staying close to the does.
After the buck disappears into the woods, I step outside to get some sun on my face. Itís a cool crisp morning, and the chickadees are busy flying off with sunflower seeds. I love their gentle chatter as they go about their morning business of eating breakfast. I heard birdsong that I didnít recognize coming from a tall lilac bush. I finally spotted a small bird moving quickly among the branches. It was a pretty little Carolina wren. The house wrens have been gone for a month and a half. Apparently, the Carolina wren is a little hardier than its cousins. About half the size of a house wren, it has a white strip above its eyes and a creamy breast with buff flanks. Its short, melodic chirps were not like its beautiful summer song. I rarely see them in Wisconsin, and this is the latest Iíve spotted one. I tried to get a picture, but it wouldnít stand still long enough. After about 20 minutes, it is gone. I walk back to the house, then stop and scan the meadow for one last look at the buck, but there is no sign of him. Just then a red-tailed hawk lands on his favorite perch in the cottonwood tree along the creek. I bid him good morning and go inside to find my own version of breakfast.
What few signs of summer that remain will soon be gone, and we wonít see them again until spring. Itís now time to accept the challenges that winter will bring. Itís time to make peace with the cold and the long dark nights. Itís time to fall back inside myself.
All art ©2013 Organic Valley