"Weather" is usually the stuff of small talk, but lately it has been a hot topic around here. After such a cool spring and summer, warmth has finally arrived. The past two weeks have been beautiful, with temperatures in the low to mid 90s, and lots of sunshine.
I keep hoping there's still time for some plants to produce seed, but it's getting late. The first good frost usually hits the Kickapoo Valley by the 16th of September. Some low areas have already had a light frost, but there's hope that we will get into October before a hard one hits. It's hard to predict anything these days.
A large clump of big bluestem is just now flowering. This tall grass is sometimes called "turkey foot", because it's head resembles the foot and long toes of a turkey. The tiny yellow flowers on those toes are a foot higher than I can reach. I'm hoping to collect some seed from this wonderful native grass. Other prairie plants, like the yellow and purple coneflowers, also have some catching up to do, but there's hope.
It's a little strange to have such nice summer-like weather, and to see migrating birds passing through. The last two evenings I've seen bunches of nighthawks slowly gliding south, hunting for flying insects as they go. The barn swallows are gathering, waiting for the perfect time to leave. Hopefully they will stay around as long as there are insects to fatten upon before their journey. Small flocks of bluebirds singe merrily as they pass by each day, and flocks of ducks follow the river each morning. I see the flocks of red-winged blackbirds getting larger each day, as they stage together in anticipation of their big move. I'm always sad to see the blackbirds leave. Robins too can be seen in large bunches, as they hop across lawns, searching for worms. For now, they're in no hurry to leave. There's still plenty to eat, and a little rain might make their lives easier.
The pasture isn't as green as it was, but a large family group of turkeys still find it a good place to catch grasshoppers and crickets. The adults stand guard while the young birds eat. The late brood is still only half-grown, and they look funny being various sizes.
The sumac leaves are now a blaze of orange and yellow. I watched a male sharp-shinned hawk contribute to the excitement and color by flushing out the blue jays. The hawk himself is breathtakingly beautiful, with a striped blush-colored breast and a bluish gray back and wings. The blue jays flashed their bright wings as they hurried away.
Missing his attempt at breakfast, the small hawk remained perched in the branches. His blood red eyes search the immediate area for a jay that might still be hiding. The jays stay at a distance, voicing their displeasure. The hawk, realizing the futility of his surprise attack, dashed off through the thick foliage and was gone. This is the best time of year to see these fast little accipiters, as they pass through on their migrations.
I don't take much stock in the advice from the daily horoscope, but I like to read them for fun and I found Saturday's interesting. It said when I put my heart in my work, I can access and send good spiritual energy to people everywhere.
Here's hoping that wherever you are, you enjoy the little taste of Southwest Wisconsin that I send you each week!
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