Since our last radio visit, my self-imposed criteria was met in regard to declaring autumn history, in spite of what the calendar says. Winter at Wildersmith happened a few days ago when after a cold night, the following daytime high temperature failed to rise above the freezing mark.
Furthermore, this neighborhood had several mornings of hard frost before recovering in the early part of the week. And to take the cold even more seriously, the area had a forecast one evening featuring the “s” word; however, none of the white stuff is known to have materialized. A mediocre rain fell in concert with a blast of nighttime winds bringing our color show to an abrupt end, ushering in the aforesaid cold spell. Yep, most all leaves have blanketed the wilderness landscape.
This has left the forest with eerie skeletal remains reaching up into the territorial heavens. To view from afar, across our valleys to the surrounding granite hillsides, our denuded trees look to be a mass of gauzy cobwebs with a ghostly cast. How appropriate “Mother Nature” is so casually playing a key role, in adding to the Halloween mood.
As the deciduous part of the forest met its demise, the last character of autumn is glowing radiantly out this way. It's “tamarack time” along the Trail. This final act of the growing season finds our golden coniferous spires brightly lighting up the byway. It’s almost to the point of a blinding blur against a sunlit backdrop. Sadly, these luminous needles don’t last long, and they’ll be raining down with the next gush of pre-winter flurry. In the meantime, this sylvan spectacle is one to behold!
The cold being such, I’ve broken out the winter Carhartt. As I put finishing touches on “getting ready for winter" chores, I must say keeping the warmth in felt pretty good to the creaky old bones!
Speaking of wearing apparel, a mystery of such is ongoing after a recent laundry drying incident. On one of these last days where clothes could be hung out on the line to dry, my wife dispatched a few items, giving no thought about what might happen, other than fresh-smelling garments at day's end. Following several hours in the sun and a fall breeze, she proceeded to retrieve her hangings. Unpinning the last item (a black t-shirt of yours truly), the unit was found to be tattered beyond belief in two locations where it was attached to the line. The mystery is how this did happen? The shirt was in mint condition when hung up. To date there are no substantial answers. The notion is some tight-wire trekking critter is to blame. Conjecture around the house, as well as with neighbors, focuses on either squirrels, chipmunks or woodpeckers. The answer may never be confirmed, but my best guess is, it was a squirrel in need of winter quarters nesting material.
It wouldn’t be the first time around here one of the red rodents has made off with some man-made materials. On one occasion, I observed a red gnawer running off with a cotton glove I had left out. Then at another time, I watched one of the varmints untie a swatch of hemp-like twine from a winter-tethered shrub. The twine, incidentally, ended up as part of a nest in the HVAC unit of my vehicle (a costly fix to be sure). So my assumption possibly has substance, nevertheless, I’m out one of those nice (but not cheap) Duluth Trading Co. shirts.
On a final note, in regard to last week's comments about the energetic chickadees swarming me anytime I’m outside, the lady of the house has now been adopted by a pair of the dainty birds. They won’t leave her alone since she started offering an open hand full of seeds. It’s so amusing to observe this moment in nature as they pluck one seed at a time from her hand, zip off to a nearby branch, hold the seed down with their mini-clawed toes, crack it open, munch it down and zoom back for another. What a ritual! This newly acquired friendship is the “best of all worlds” in terms of pet/human relationships. They really don’t need you, but they’ll be your pal and entertain you -- for a treat of course. And, they can be left alone without the neighbor having to care for them.
This is Fred Smith, on the Trail, at Wildersmith, counting the days ‘til the forest becomes crystalline!
( Photo by Larry Krause on Flickr)