The week started hot and humid on Monday, too humid and sticky to do much of anything outside. Relief came mid-afternoon when dark clouds came in with lightning and thunder that gave way to a heavy rain. It came down hard but without the driving wind that sometimes goes with such a summer storm. Conditions were perfect for a nice outdoor shower, so I grabbed my favorite bar of soap and let the fresh rain come down on me. Thereís no better way to feel grounded to Mother Earth. The rain let up after half an hour, and the cool relief lasted the rest of the day and night.
It rained again the next afternoon, and again the rain came hard with lightning and lots of window rattling thunder. This time, there was hail. I stayed in the house when I heard how much noise it made bouncing off the metal roof of the old school house. Iíve often wondered what it must be like for a tree roosting turkey or hawk that has to endure the pelting hail stones.
The first of the migrating robins are moving through the valley. Actually, I didnít see them, but rather heard them at dusk as they talked to each other in the woods. Summer is over for some. For others, itís a new beginning as a male cardinal feeds one of his new fledglings. These young birds from a second or third brood have hatched so late, they wonít have much summer left to enjoy.
The signs of summer and autumn as they blend together are everywhere, even in the pumpkin patch. A large, yellow blossom will never turn into an orange pumpkin like the one on the ground nearby. A large ripe pumpkin is a sure sign of autumn.
Itís a big year for asters, and they are blooming everywhere I look. The wooded hillside is covered with pretty light blue wood asters. In the meadow, there are patches of showy tall white asters. The blue ribbon usually goes to the beautiful deep lavender blue New England asters. They are large flowers with a pretty orange center and are early to bloom again this year.
I couldnít help but take a few pictures of the Kickapoo River while it was still surrounded by lush green foliage that is reflected in the moving water. One of my favorite river scenes is from an iron bridge that still crosses the river. The antique rusty bridge is one of the very last to have borne horse and buggy traffic over its wooden planks. It was a time when the pace of peoplesí lives was much slower. There was more time to think about things while you trotted along in the buggy down a winding country road.
A volleyball sized wasp nest hangs partially camouflaged in the upper leaves of a large lilac bush. It was skillfully made by a colony of large wasps known as bald-faced paper wasps. Itís always good to know where these nests are so I donít accidentally get too close. Iíve been stung by about everything with a stinger, and I havenít forgotten how uncomfortable the sting from a bald-faced paper wasp is.
There seem to be a good number of leopard frogs. Iíve been seeing them pretty much everywhere in the yard, meadow and even in the woods. These wandering frogs donít have to be near the water to make a living. Iíve also been seeing a lot of tiny first year leopard frogs, less than half grown. They arenít nearly as hard to catch as the slippery and much faster adult frogs.
These late summer / early autumn days have been a mix of hot and cool with a little rain tossed in. There have been foggy mornings and sunny afternoons and clear night skies with millions of twinkling stars. Last night I watched the sunset with dozens of dragon flies silhouetted against a pink pastel sky. A hint of melancholy came over me, as I know that evenings like this are numbered.
Pettie, the young robin, is enjoying his days flying about the yard and meadow like he owns the place. He lands on my house as I sit in the lawn char. He knows I have a few crickets for him, and he patiently waits for the free handout. I still have to supplement his diet to be sure heís getting enough to eat. His attitude is definitely changing, but he still shows no fear of me and comes to me whenever heís hungry.
As he sits on my knee, he often turns his head to look at the sky. When he does this, I look up to see what has caught his attention, because the little robin always lets me know when there is a hawk flying overhead. Today, itís an osprey. Itís a little early to see a migrating osprey.
Thereís a lot going on outside this time of the year. So many changes are happening right under our noses as we inch closer to winter. Itís a beautiful time to let Nature into your life, and a beautiful time to be outside.
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