Each fall it seems that the weather migrates south along with the birds. They are slowly pushed south by "Old Jack Frost." He made his first appearance here a few nights ago, but it was only a brief visit. Jack danced lightly over the garden, and by midday his frosty touch was very apparent. The outer leaves of the tomato plants were gone, exposing the fruit underneath. I'll have to pick them all before Jack comes back.
The large leaves on the pumpkin and gourd vines are about half wilted already, but the vines weren't touched by the frost. With luck, there will be another week above freezing for the pumpkins and gourds.
The next night, the sky was clear and covered with sparkling stars. The cool night air felt fresh and new, but it seemed like something was missing. I realized the change was that the insects were quiet, for the most part, anyway. I heard the faint song of a cricket here and there, but nothing compared to before the frost. What a difference a day can make!
At twilight I could see the Brown bats silhouetted against the sky. I suspect they'll have to work a little harder to catch a meal from now on. I've come to realize how adaptable bats can be. The sudden shortage of insects doesn't stop them from going out each night until the first week of November.
I have yet to see any Asian lady bugs, but there are quite a few Box elder bugs showing up in the house. My daily walks have been free of Deer ticks since June. However, my shirtsleeves and socks usually have burdock burrs and stick-tights clinging to them. Seedy "tagalongs" like these have to be dealt with carefully, so they don't end up in the flower beds around the porch.
I will have to wait for 8 months now to again hear the song of a Whip-poor-will. When the frost came, they left. Now I'll spend the next 8 months wondering if they will return.
I was surprised to see a Hummingbird at the Sylvia plants the day after the frost came. Pretty bold, I thought, for one so tiny to go up against such a merciless foe as the frost.
The White-tailed deer are entering their mating season, and the bucks are in "the Rut." They are very active now, and are moving around a lot, especially at night. Unfortunately, their activity means that there are more deer/car accidents at this time of year. If you drive at night in deer country, you can reduce your odds of collision with a deer if you simply slow down and be alert.
I watched a group of Turkey vultures yesterday. They stood on the branches of a dead tree, preening their dark feathers and taking in the sun. With my binoculars I could clearly see their featherless faces, reminding me so much of a wild turkey's features. Many people think they are ugly, but I thought they looked magnificent. Beauty truly is in the eye and mind of the beholder.
At the Organic Valley headquarters building in LaFarge, employees and visitors have been treated to the sight of a pair of Bald eagles. The eagles often pass right over the building as they glide up and down the Kickapoo River valley. We who work here are truly blessed to live in a place where nature is so close to us.
The frost ushers in harvest time, as dry brown leaves in the cornfield rustle in the breeze. A flock of blackbirds drops down and they disappear among the rows, searching out leftovers.
The bright yellow tops of goldenrod plants have darkened and are starting to force their sees. I notice Goldfinches all busy eating tiny seeds off the dark brown button-heads of the coneflowers and daisies. As soon as the flower tops in the Zinnia bed turn brown, the finches will set to eating those seeds as well.
The leaves on the wild grape vines have turned yellow and shriveled, exposing many clusters of purple fruit. The Morning glory plants, on the other hand, survived the first frost and still bloom proudly each morning.
Two days after the first frost, maple trees turned the mountains orange and yellow. Each passing day, Autumn's favorite colors become more and more intense.
A rain is predicted tonight; it will be warm but will bring some of the leaves down. The first rain after the frost always does that, bringing a leaf-fall that reminds me of what is to come.
I hope everyone is enjoying the fall as much as I am. I see Autumn colors as a celebration of the summer's bounty, and they beckon everyone to join the celebration. Enjoy it while it lasts!
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