I went out bright and early Tuesday morning and ventured down to the foggy river bottom. The morning was wet and hardly bright but there was enough light to use the camera with lots of topics in the form of wildflowers, insects and birds. I'm never at a loss for something to take a picture of, especially at the start of such a beautiful new day. There are many sounds and smells that will only be recorded in my mind but that's OK, it's a safe place. It's worth getting a little wet to be able to smell the earthy sweetness of the marsh in autumn or to hear the clamoring of Canada geese as they rise above the fog.
This morning was extra special because I was able to get fairly close to the crane family who seemed to know who I was and I intended them no harm. The two juvenile cranes still aren't quite as tall as their parents and are still growing feathers on their necks and heads. They are finding their own food now but still stick very close to their parents. A farmer had recently chopped a small cornfield for silage and the cranes are taking advantage of the kernels of corn left behind by the chopper wagon. It has been two weeks since I last saw them, hoping to see them again soon.
The fall colors are very apparent now and some of the early Sugar maple trees are ablaze with orange. The sumac at the edge of the woods lined the tall colorful trees with red and yellow leaves. Even though there has yet to be any frost, the fall colors announce the autumn season and the end of the green of summer.
On the dead branch of a box elder tree there is a small bunch of oyster mushrooms. It is a good year for autumn mushrooms and if they are fresh, I like to eat them for breakfast, browned in some Organic Valley butter and scrambled with some fresh, brown Organic Valley eggs. It's been a wet summer and early fall and it's time to think about a mushroom walk, just to see what I can find. I do like to eat some of the wild mushrooms I find but if I can't identify them I just leave them alone. My motto is "when in doubt, go without." There are lots of beautiful mushrooms to enjoy, different shapes, sizes and colors and I don't have to eat them to enjoy them.
The birdfeeders have had lots of visitors as the cooler nights make the birds hungrier. It's time for them to start putting on some fat reserves before winter. The goldfinches are showing up in numbers as the many sunflowers go to seed. I knew they would be here in the fall if I planted sunflowers and coneflowers in the spring. There are still a few Rose-breasted grosbeaks but expect them to be gone any day now. The jays, woodpeckers, nuthatches, chickadees and cardinals are at the feeders every morning. A busy little chipmunk fills his pouches and hides the seeds he collects, it's what he does but soon he'll be gone and not seen again till spring. They will spend most of the next six months asleep in a warm den in the ground or hollow log.
As the seasons turn there are still some pretty flowers to enjoy, many of them lavender or purple like the wood asters and the pretty little viola. Their time to bloom has come and they make the most of it. The tattered wings of a Black swallowtail indicate that its time to bloom is passing and like the summer flowers, he is fading fast.
The round cone-shaped flowers of the blue Bottle gentian are about as big around as my forefinger. The purple / blue gentians stand out against the yellowing short grass on the meadow hillside. Another blue gift from autumn are the very showy New England asters. There may be various shades of blue and lavender with pretty yellow / orange centers.
I bent down to take a photo of a single Queen Anne's Lace. The little white flower is no larger than a silver dollar but there is a lot going on there. I didn't see the tiny 1/8 inch long Crab spider until I got very close. He was holding a very small fly in his jaws that he has just captured. To my surprise I could see another little spider, to the right of the first one, who was partially hidden by the flower petals.
There are still a couple of towhees in my small valley and I'm wondering if they will spend the winter here. There has been a towhee at my birdfeeders all winter the past three years.
These are beautiful days to be outside enjoying the changes of the seasons. Have a campfire, take a canoe ride, visit an apple orchard or just take a walk around a lake or along the river. Get outside and be a part of the autumn season, be a part of life.
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