I used to hate fall with the unbridled fire of a thousand suns about to go supernova. Loathed and detested it. I ranked the seasons spring, winter, summer then fall, in that order (for obvious reasons, I prefer woolens to bathing suits). It took me years to understand that I was experiencing Seasonal Affectedness Disorder, that the dimming of the outside light was putting a serious damper on my internal light. There’s all sorts of treatment options for this now, but in the past couple of years I have found that for me, the best thing I can do for myself is to get outside as much as possible during this time. It’s still my least favorite time of the year, but the combination of exercise and sunshine has enabled me to more-or-less function during this time, and I’m even occasionally surprised to find myself actually enjoying the season.
It also helps that one of the things I really enjoy about all the hiking/walking excursions is being able to experience a place over the course of an entire year. The landscapes change, the views change, the wildlife change – and yet it’s still familiar. Yesterday was such a beautiful day that it necessitated a hike through the Oxbow National Wildlife Refuge. We began there back in March, when things were just beginning to wake up, and now things are getting ready for a long sleep. Obviously the foliage has turned, and there’s lots of reds, oranges and yellow in the treetops. I was surprised to see how low the water levels were in the ponds. In the spring, these ponds flood the trails, and now they are not much more than mud puddles. What really struck me was how quiet it is at this time of year – the usual caucophony of birds was noticeably dimmer, though we saw a belted kingfisher in the trees and three turkey vultures circling overhead. Mostly we heard chickadees, though I didn’t actually see any.
Here are a few things I did see:
1. Maple leafs the size of our heads. Or dinner plates.
2. Fairly sure this is a Comma butterfly.
3. Lone Turtle.
4. While we did not see an actual beaver, there was plenty of evidence of them. To wit, this very large lodge that has pretty much taken over the path:
5. Mushrooms growing on a tree trunk:
6. These red berries everywhere, which look very Christmassy.
7. Orthoptera. That means it’s either a cricket or a grasshopper and I’m not sure which. The path skirts a meadow, and these fellas were making such a racket in the grass that I thought for sure a rabbit or some other animal was in there. But no, just dozens of these popping like popcorn.
8. I turned around on the path and caught this Photographer in the Wild. Classic VEB.