Autumn in Summer

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Today was a beautiful combination of summer weather and fall colors. A strong breeze made the warmer temperatures tolerable, golden sunlight streamed down, fluffy clouds floated swiftly along, and a bright blue sky created the perfect contrast to the sporadic flashes of autumn colors appearing in the trees. Jazzmin and I took full advantage of the perfect weather by taking a nice, long, semi-leisurely walk. I say semi-leisurely because Jazzmin doesn’t really have a “slow” speed so everything has to move at a decent power-walking pace. Even though I could slow her down if I wanted to, the pace is beneficial for both of us and we strut along side-by-side with her on my left as I keep my eyes peeled for oncoming cars.

The warmth of the sun today convinced me to seek a shady route for our walk. Since we were heading out at 2:30 p.m., the only viable option for shade from the sun’s angle was the farmer’s access road. The farmer’s road is one of my favorite walking routes because we never have to worry about other dogs and the only “traffic” is the occasional slow tractor that we can easily avoid. Along the road today, there were intriguing spots of bright red and warm orange among the tree leaves as well as numerous butterflies, dragonflies, and birds. I was happy to see and hear the bluebirds because I know it’s only a matter of time before they head south. I don’t blame them and I wish I could go with them but I’ll miss them when they’re gone.

When we reached the area where the farmer’s road opens up into multiple fields, I decided we’d walk up to the top of the nearest hill and then back down to investigate the little pond filled with cattails. The farmer very recently added fresh dirt to the road leading up the hill and it was well-packed but refreshingly comfortable under our feet. We walked until we reached the top of the hill and the end of the tree shade and then paused for a while so I could take in the view. Photos don’t really do the view justice but I took some anyway in an attempt to convey the vastness of the surrounding landscape.

 

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One of the fallen leaves. Note Jazz keeping watch nearby.

One of the fallen leaves. Note Jazz keeping watch nearby.

After we made it over to the little pond, I was pleasantly surprised to see a pair of redwing blackbirds flying among the cattails. I’d just been thinking the other day that I hadn’t seen any redwing blackbirds in a couple months and I’d wondered where they went. Apparently, they just become more particular about where they live once they’ve settled in for the season. Unfortunately, the cattails were too tall to see anything else through so we headed back toward the main road home.

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The little pond and the view beyond.

 

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One of the many monarchs we saw flying around the fields.

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Walking among the “tunnel of trees” on the farmer’s access road is one of my favorite experiences. It looks as though the path is endless even though I know there’s a paved road on one end and fields on the other. The canopy of branches and leaves gently falling down from them created a very serene feeling that I reveled in all the way back.

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Jazzmin and I had just turned the corner onto the road we live on when I heard a hawk cry from up in the sky. I looked up and saw not one, but two hawks circling above the trees to our right. I stopped in my tracks and watched them circle as they talked to each other amid lazy circles. Eventually they separated and I grabbed my camera again to see if I could capture one in flight. It’s no easy thing finding a distant hawk against a bright blue sky when looking into a camera viewfinder but I managed to spot him and snap a couple pictures. I then tucked my camera away and we continue down the road and into our driveway as I kept my eyes on his soaring form.

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The hawk flew south over my driveway and into the farmer’s field behind my house before disappearing beyond the treetops. I appreciated that he felt the need to make sure I got home safe and I imagine I’ll be seeing him again soon.

I do love autumn, it’s one of my favorite seasons, but I don’t mind when a bit of summer manages to sneak in before the end of its run. Every day with sunshine, warmth, changing leaves is a blessing and I’m going to revel in it as I try not to think about the less pleasant season that follows.

Falling Too Fast

Autumn is my favorite season but it comes and goes far too fast! One day the leaves are all green, the next day they’re changing and the day after that they start falling. It’s pretty to watch the leaves fall but I do wish they could stick themselves back up on the branches rather than letting the tree go bare. I don’t like the stark, leafless trees of winter.

I’ve been trying to enjoy this season as much as possible. When I have my girls we play outside. Jaycie swings or plays her favorite new game that involves throwing our smaller hula hoop up into the tree. She’s only gotten it stuck once so far. Jordan and I spread out my big burgundy, white and green comforter and lay on it in the sun. I hook Jazz up to her lead by the tree and she sniffs around at the various squirrel trails. Jordan eventually wanders off in search of small sticks and leaves to make a mini-kite a mouse might use and I usually flip through Northshore Magazine and House Beautiful trying to spark writing ideas.

When I don’t have the girls I have to catch up on my freelance writing. The most time I spend outdoors is walking Jazz or mowing the lawn. Now and then I’ll take a break and walk around my yard but mostly I’m inside with the windows open wishing I had more time to be out in the fall air. I still get to enjoy the weather and seasons more than I ever did working an office job so it’s really not all bad.

Today wasn’t the nicest of fall days. It rained off and on and was mostly cloudy with tons of humidity. I managed to squeeze a walk in with Jazz this afternoon and we only got sprinkled on a little bit. Looking down the road I was amazed to see how much color there was and how many leaves had already fallen. I rather wish the season would slow down a bit because I’m not looking forward to winter and the onset of cabin fever. I only saw one woolly bear caterpillar but I happily saved him. He was a brave one and crawled along my hand before I set him gently in the grass on the other side of the road.

The days are growing shorter but thankfully the weather has been extremely nice lately. Not hot enough to need to run the air conditioning and not cold enough to need the furnace. I always appreciate lower utility bills! It’s a bit too cool to leave the windows open at night but the fresh air from the day lingers inside even after I close them. I’m going to take it all in for as long as I can because autumn, as always, is falling too fast.

Fall’s Fuzzy Caterpillars

As this is my last post in my September streak of consecutive entries, I was thinking about writing a summation explaining what I’ve discovered about what brings traffic to my site. I might still write that post but not today. Today I want to write about a different kind of traffic, caterpillar traffic.

Fall is a time of cooler temperatures, colorful leaves and shortening days. Around where I live, it’s also the time when the fuzzy brown and orange caterpillars start crossing the road. They’re woolly bear caterpillars and they’re the larval form of the Isabella Tiger Moth. After looking at pictures of the caterpillars and the moths they turn into, I think the caterpillars are cuter.

When I was little, I loved looking for the caterpillars in the corn stalks my mom would tie around our front light post. The caterpillars loved munching on the dried husks and leaves of the corn stalks and without fail I’d find two or three there every day. One year I took a few inside and placed them in my dollhouse to watch them crawl around. I made them little beds in cardboard jewelry boxes and tucked them in at night. This lasted a few days until one day I went down into the basement where my dollhouse was and found that they’d all made fuzzy cocoons. I was rather sad my caterpillars were gone. I put their cocoons outside because I didn’t think my mom would be happy if big moths started flying around her house.

On my recent walks with Jazzmin, we’ve seen many woolly bear caterpillars crawling swiftly across the road. When I see them, I quickly scoop them up and carry them the rest of the way across the road. Not many cars are going to swerve to avoid running over a caterpillar and I love doing my part to help nature survive the perils brought by humans.

Just this morning I saved 12 caterpillars on our six-mile walk. Some of them curl up in little balls when I pick them up but others keep on crawling as if my hand is just an object in their path. I imagine if anyone looks out their house windows when I’m rescuing a caterpillar they wonder why I just randomly walked into the middle of the road and crouched down. I always make sure there aren’t any cars coming which isn’t difficult on the bumper-to-bumper-free country roads I live and walk on.

The wide open spaces that surround us on our walks.

The wide-open spaces that surround us on our walks.

Following our six-mile walk Jazz was suitably exhausted and proceeded to nap for the rest of the morning. I would’ve liked to join her but there’s always freelance writing to do. I was content to settle in to work knowing that I’d made a small difference in the world, even if the only ones who appreciate it are the woolly bear caterpillars.

Jazz resisting the urge to nap...

Jazz resisting the urge to nap…

Jazz lost the battle against the nap.

Jazz lost the battle against the nap.