The air is blustery cool, but not yet cold. There is not a cloud in the sky. The sumac and virginia creeper are turning blood red. The walnuts and acorns are on the ground. The leaves are falling like driving rain. Altogether it is an ordinary fall day; a perfect time to explore. This will be a day walk, in the early afternoon, best chance to see some of our summer friends that are still lingering.
The dragonflies can still be seen effortlessly patrolling the sky. Today is a little warmer; yesterday the dragonflies were stuck in the hanger. They will altogether disappear sometime this month.The grasshoppers are still about, but moving slowly. Box elder bugs are busy assembling on the sunny side of my shop. The heath aster still offers up a few butterflies (sulphur and cabbage, pearl crescent and one lone monarch). The butterflies float over the asters like little sail boats on a sea of air. The water strider and whirligig are still busy skiing on the water, while a green frog plops into the pool. Wood ducks and teal are milling in the new marsh across the road. I just spotted a brown snake basking on the road. I moved my little friend to a sunny knoll; the park road is a perilous place to lay.
Rambling along the park road, I can’t help but notice how busy the squirrels are! They are everywhere, scampering along the ground, digging holes, and stashing nuts. I wonder how many of those nuts they will relocate. I stop, take a long breath and listen.Yes; it is a pileated woodpecker raising a racket in the forest. I meander onto a park trail and it is a blanket of drifting leaves. I have startled a roosting red-tail who has abandoned his roost with a disproving scream. Despite the bright sunny day, I can hear a barred owl’s slow hooting rising from the river valley. Nosing through the leaves, oblivious to me, is a chipmunk nervously searching for food. I also have flushed a gang of crows, no doubt up to no good. I happen upon a whirl of mourning doves, lucky for them they are in a safe zone. There is a considerable ruckus ahead, turns out to be a marauding band of blue jays. I observe ahead on the path, a doe, with two yearlings moving stealthily away from me.
I drift off the trail into the campground where I am welcomed by a troop of robins bivouacked across the mowed grass. Back on the campground road I steer for my house. I spot a hatchling snapping turtle on the road. Unfortunately, it got flattened in the crossing. Too bad, it could not have been more than a week old, about the size of a quarter.
I arrive back at the house to spot a woodchuck standing at attention in my open garage door. Apparently, this overstuffed rodent is planning to winter under my small shop in the garage. I suppose it is welcome. The garage has been open to all trespassers since the flood of ‘08. Well, that is not entirely true. I have evicted opossums and stray cats. My wife, for some unknown reason, has also requested the removal of a snake or two. I have not sold Sandy on the merits of snakes as mice exterminators. Well it has been a most “extraordinary” ordinary walk.
Get out and take an ordinary fall walk. It just might become an extraordinary adventure.