The coloring of Autumn is building to all its glory, and I walk around sighing with mouth agape. But I will share all of that at a later time. Right now the large and small creatures are in motion.
The allure of the asters on the porch have become a gathering place for the bumble bees during the warmer hours of the day. The flowers are alive with their movement. They aren’t holding still long enough so I can catch a good photo, but their bright yellow and deep black bodies against the violet/pink of the blooms are beautiful to watch. The queen bumble bee will hibernate and winter over. The rest of the colony will not last past the fall.
A walking stick clings to the arm of a bench where I sit with a friend. There is something about them that is weirdly appealing to me. They are just so odd. In autumn they will leave their eggs behind in the leaf litter and die before winter – that is if the birds or mice don’t make a meal of them first.
The voices of the crickets are lessening, yet a few continue to hold out despite the cooler nights. During the warmth of daytime I see them moving through the grass or bouncing across the sidewalk. One actually made it into the house and hid somewhere in a potted plant, its incessant chirp going off all night like a living smoke alarm that could not be turned off, finally becoming silent on Day Two (I never did find it).
I stop the car to let a flock of turkeys move across the road. I’m not in any rush. They forage among the oaks where the forest floor is rich with this year’s heavy bounty of acorns.
The striped pattern on their wing feathers is striking. When the sun glances off their bodies, they take on a bluish sheen.
Walking through the woods, I spy a doe in a clearing off in the distance. I’m looking at her, she’s looking at me. I try not to move and we just stare at each other for a while. They are pretty bold lately. She doesn’t take off. I leave first and she goes back to her business at hand.
The colors are so vibrant right in my own back yard that it’s not really necessary to go for a foliage drive, but I decided to get into the mountains anyway in order to get the full vista. What looked like a lost piece of luggage on the pavement far up ahead turned out to be a fairly large snapping turtle slowly crossing the road. I was very relieved that the car I flagged down coming in the opposite direction noticed me waving and flashing and was able to stop. We both waited and held up traffic both ways until the snapper made it safely to the other side. The other driver was relieved and profusely thankful that I stopped her in time. I think we both felt pretty good about it.
The snapping turtle will spend the winter in a pond beneath the ice. As it gets colder the turtle’s respiration will slow down so that the very little oxygen it needs will be pulled from the water and into its blood vessels instead of its lungs. I read most of the turtle’s blood vessels are actually in its butt. The turtle essentially breathes through its butt all winter. There is a cool little fact! It will not need to eat, or will eat very little during this time, until it comes up again in the spring to warm up, mate and lay their eggs.
There are wooly caterpillars (aka “wooly bear caterpillars”) here and there. Folklore says that the wooly caterpillar – which is actually the larva of the Isabella tiger moth – can be an indicator of the winter to come, based on the size of the rust brown and black segments. The more rust color, the milder the winter will be. More black segments mean the winter will be harsher. Here is a wooly from my front yard. What kind of a winter do you think we are in for?
The geese have already begun to move on. The sound of their calls as they guide and encourage each other on their journey always sets a small ache and longing in my own heart. Every fall when they begin their migration, I recall the lines of a song which has always moved me called “Urge for Going”, written by Joni Mitchell and covered so aptly by Tom Rush many years ago, a riff of the guitar almost mimicking the cry of the geese in their travel:
See the geese in chevron flight
Flapping and racing on before the snow…
They’ve got the urge for going
And they’ve got the wings to go
They get the urge for going
When the meadow grass is turning brown
And summertime is falling down and winter is closing in